Well, it's official. Our new ice cream maker is a keeper.
The Cuisinart ICE-50BC Supreme Ice Cream Maker is a step up in both functionality and price from the very popular freezer-bowl ice cream makers that many of us own. The freezer-bowl makers are easy to find and they usually run only about $40-$50. You can see our review of a basic Cuisinart model here:
The drawback to this type of ice cream maker is that it is limited in how many consecutive batches you can make. The bowl that the ice cream is churned in has a thick double wall encasing a special liquid. This liquid needs to be frozen solid for the bowl to be used. Freezing it usually takes a full 24 hours; we've tried using it more quickly than that and just ended up with ice cream soup.
In general, the less expensive versions are really great if you plan on making ice cream only occasionally (or no more than once a weekend) and if you have time to really chill your ice cream base. This means planning ahead and cooking your custard, then giving it a night in the fridge to chill, then churning it in your ice cream maker the next day.
But what if you want to make more batches in a short period of time, or if you want more immediate ice cream gratification? Enter the next step up: a consumer compressor model.
A compressor model of ice cream maker has an built-in compressor. There is no need to chill the bowl and no need to wait between batches. The motor and compressor get the temperature down to freezing as the bowl churns.
There's a big step up in price for these benefits: the retail price for this Cuisinart model (perhaps the most common and easily found) is $400. I bought mine for far, far less than that - used off Craigslist. You can often find these used on Craigslist or on eBay. They are much larger and seem to be the first thing that people want to clear out of their closets during spring cleaning.
So how does it work, and is it worth it?
Well, if you're going to make a lot of ice cream at once (like I am, for my wedding) yes, it's worth it. If you are a heavy-duty ice cream or sorbet eater, this is a fabulous machine.
The down-side, besides price, is the size. This puppy is big and really heavy. It also makes a ton of noise; the motor grinds and grinds as it turns.
Here are a few more tips from our use so far.
• You can put in warm ice cream mix, like slightly cooled custard, but it will take a lot longer to churn and probably be looser than you would like. We had better results with pre-chilled mix.
• It's very easy to use this machine - just as easy as the freezer-bowl models. You just pour the mix into the pail, put it in the machine, slot in the paddle, and put on the lid. The lid slots into the churning arm and connects to the paddle.
• One last note on what is actually my favorite feature so far! It may be a minor thing for most of you, but I love how easy it is to get the ice cream out of the light little 1-quart pail. The freezer-bowl is so heavy and unwieldy that it was very difficult to scrape out. The bowl is also much easier to wash, for the same reason.
Have you ever tried one of these compressor models? If you're lucky enough to own one, get mixing! There's a contest on...
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