This feature is sponsored by KitchenAid, who is letting us play every day in the TasteSpotting kitchen with a stand mixer and a full suite of stand mixer attachments.
Somewhere amidst oceanwaves of dust under my bed, there is a tattered L.A. Gear shoebox full of what many might call a “gold mine.”
It is a collection of gold-plated pens engraved with either my initials or my full name.
(Ok, they’re not all gold – some of them are silver – but that just didn’t work with the “gold mine” metaphor, now did it?!)
The pens were, as you can guess by the context, all graduation gifts. When I graduated from my private semi-prepsterville high school, I got pens. When I graduated from college, I got pens. I almost didn’t want to graduate from business school because I didn’t want Any. More. Fricking. Pens.
I have a lot of pens, but aside from possibly once a month to sign a rent check, I never use them. Pens, my friends, are a gift that is never giving in the first place. I can’t re-gift them because they have my name on them, I can’t goodwill them because again, they have my name on them, and I can’t throw them away because they were expensive.
Do I sound like an ungrateful little brat? Especially since these days, a pen is hardly a standard graduation gift? Maybe I am a brat. Or maybe I’m just trying to make a point about graduation gifts that are just as awesome as whatever the standard gift is now (iPod?), but way more practical.
Okay, so a KitchenAid® Stand Mixer is also just way more awesome.
We love the idea of the stand mixer as a graduation gift – something with which to start the new “grown-up” life, cooking and baking and feeding oneself. As a young graduate grows through the rest of her life, she can build upon the stand mixer base with all the attachments.
It’s kind of perfect, don’t you think?
We used our stand mixer to bake a simple subtly lemon-scented cheesecake which, like a KitchenAid® Stand Mixer, is a simple base upon which to build.
Cheesecakes, for some odd reason, are notorious for being “difficult,” with one of the most common problems being a cracked top. In all honesty, I’ve thought cheesecakes were the easiest dessert to make because every cheesecake I’ve ever thrown into the oven then pulled out, with or without a cracked top, gets a pile of fresh fruit on top.
For early summer, we chose blueberries specifically because they just happen to be the color of every school from which I’ve graduated, and weren’t we talking about graduation?
Give your graduate a stand mixer. It comes with the flat beater, which is what we used to make the cheesecake. And while you’re at it, give her this recipe…
Blueberry Cheesecake Ingredients:
2½ cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup sugar
4 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 16 ounce container sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 6 ounce containers of fresh blueberries
¼ cup blueberry jam or preserves
2 tablespoons water
Blueberry Cheesecake Directions:
Preheat oven to 325. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10″ springform pan. Place the springform pan on a large baking sheet.
In a large mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press buttered crumbs into bottom and up sides of springform pan. Place on a baking sheet and bake until crust starts to brown, about 10 minutes.
In the KitchenAid stand mixer fit with the flat beater attachment, beat softened cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add flour. Add eggs one a time, and beat until fully incorporated. Beat in sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla. Do not overbeat, as it will incorporate air into the batter, which will cause the cheesecake to rise and fall too quickly, leaving the top cracked.
Pour filling into crust.
Bake cheesecake until the top begins to turn golden, and darker at the edges, about 1 hour.
Let cheesecake cool for about an hour in the springform pan. Run a knife carefully around the edge to loosen the crust from the sides of the pan, but keep the cheesecake in the pan. Chill in refrigerator for 6-8 hours, or overnight.
Remove cheesecake from springform pan. Top with fresh blueberries. Glaze blueberries with blueberry preserves that has been thinned with water. You can also toss the blueberries with the thinned preserves in a medium bowl before topping the cheesecake.