Test Run: Cold Comforts
Once upon a time, making your own ice cream was more apt to get you hot and bothered than cool you down. It involved pounds of rock salt and ice and an ample supply of elbow grease for cranking a (shudder) manual churner. Plus time.
Lots of time.
Now that technology has caught up to Ben & Jerry’s, buying out isn’t the only
Once upon a time, making your own ice cream was more apt to get you hot and bothered than cool you down. It involved pounds of rock salt and ice and an ample supply of elbow grease for cranking a (shudder) manual churner. Plus time. Lots of time.
Now that technology has caught up to Ben & Jerry’s, buying out isn’t the only option anymore, or even the best one. Many home ice cream makers run as smoothly as soft serve and prove just as convenient as a trip to the corner store. Most can handle desserts from frozen yogurt to French-style frozen custard, some producing more than a quart of the creamy stuff in just 30 minutes. There’s even one old-fashioned crank model. Read on to see which version of chill and churn puts the cherry on top of everybody’s favorite dessert.
The Italian Job: Musso Lussino
Leave it to the Italians to concoct a $600 ice cream maker. It might seem like a lot of money—and, okay, it is—but think about it this way: You’d spend the same on 150 pints of Chunky Monkey. With a self-contained freezing unit, it’s so easy to use: Just pour the ingredients into the top of the Musso Lussino, set the built-in timer for 30 minutes, and press the freeze and churn buttons. We made a luxurious coffee ice cream and perfect lemon sorbet. Cleanup, though, is annoying, because the bowl isn’t removable, requiring you to sponge up—or lick out—the sticky remainder inside. There are more torturous chores, certainly, and this ice cream maker wins bonus points for its sleek, stainless-steel design. That, and its ease of use, make this machine splurge-worthy. Rating: 3.5 cones out of 4.
$599.99 at Kitchen Kapers, Moorestown, 856-778-7705; www.kitchenkapers.com.
One Cool Customer: Cuisinart Supreme Commercial Quality Ice Cream Maker
Cuisinart is a household name, but the company built its reputation on food processors, not ice cream makers. This model makes it clear why. Though easy to use, results can be hit or miss—our chocolate ice cream was a bit icy—and the unit is so loud that you’ll want to stay in another room while it runs. Its stainless-steel casing, though less attractive than the Musso Lussino, is more practical: It has a transparent lid with an opening for adding fruit, M&Ms or other mixers, plus a removable bowl, making cleanup a snap. And it is efficient—no pre-chilling required—which frees you up to do other things, like make hot fudge sauce. Rating: 3 cones out of 4.
$249.99 at Fante’s, Philadelphia, 800-443-2683; www.fantes.com.
The Big Chill: VillaWare Classic Ice Cream and Gelato Maker
According to the instructions, we should have had ice cream after about 25 minutes. And that’s after freezing the work bowl for 24 hours. But as the minute hand ticked past 25, 30 and then 35 and the electric churner continued mixing, we just had a bowl of thick soup. Fifteen minutes more, and it firmed up a bit, but it still wasn’t what we’d call ice cream until a half-hour in the chest freezer. Our Cherry Garcia impersonator was right on, but an impatient person would go to Wawa. Rating: 2 cones out of 4.
$49.99 online from Target, www.target.com.
Small Cone: Donvier
If you want homemade ice cream but don’t want to give up a lot of freezer or counter space or cash, the très petit Donvier is the way to go. Because of its slimness, there’s no room for an electric motor, and you only get a quart, but that’s still plenty for a few bowls’ worth. The Chillfast cylinder takes up little room in the freezer, and, true to its name, freezes in about seven hours, quicker than the other models. The manual crank on top might seem off-putting, but we only had to turn it about ten times in a half hour, and our peach sorbet was ready and delicious—no salt, ice or electricity needed. Pretty cool. Rating: 4 cones out of 4.
$61 at Cookery Ware Shop, Lahaska, 866-944-7548, www.cookeryware.com.
Cold Warrior: Kitchen-Aid Ice Cream Maker Attachment
If you’re lucky enough to own a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer, this might be the answer to your ice cream needs. The attachment consists of an insulated bowl and a churning paddle—called a dasher—which will fit any KitchenAid mixer made after 1989. The 2-quart bowl must be stored in the freezer for 24 hours, and it’s bigger than most others. Our vanilla bean version would give Häagen-Dazs a run for its money. Given KitchenAid quality, your great-great-grandkids should be able to enjoy homemade ice cream, even if they do have to hand-wash the parts. Rating: 4 cones out of 4.
$79.95 at Williams-Sonoma, Willow Grove, 215-657-1430; www.williams-sonoma.com.
Taking Its Licks: Rival 8550-X
With its wooden bucket, the Rival is for nostalgic types. This is the only model we tested where you need to chill the maker with ice while it churns. This increases the risk of having ice melt and leak all over your kitchen counter, which is what happened. Our strawberry ice cream was tasty, but never got hard enough to resemble anything we’re used to calling ice cream. The unit is also loud, and the dasher seems flimsy. Buy the Rival this year, and you’ll be selling it at your yard sale by next. Rating: 1 cone out of 4.
$49.99 by special order at Bed Bath & Beyond, Exton, 610-594-6222; www.bedbathandbeyond.com.