Monday, January 3, 2011

It is Never Too Cold for Ice Cream

Meet my little friend:

It is the most adorable mini-ice cream maker in existence. It's cool robin's egg color and sweet shape made it irresistible to me in the post-Christmas season (it also comes in pink and green).

It is made by Hamilton Beach, and received pretty rave reviews on the Target website. I can't say I recommend it yet, but I'm pretty excited.

It has two basic parts: top and bottom. The bottom is a medium-sized bowl which you place in the freezer before making the ice cream, and you can also use it for serving. This is a major selling point highlighted on the box.

I like the way these Hamilton people think.

I've never made ice cream before, so I was attracted to the ease of the machine: Pop the ingredients in the bowl, press the button, wait for 6-12 minutes.

After rushing home to put the bowls in the freezer after the purchase, I opted to first try the recipe included with the unit. Basic vanilla ice cream, with only four ingredients: Sugar, Half and Half, Heavy Cream, and Vanilla.

Then, since the recipe was not specific about chilling time for the mix, I popped it in the fridge for an hour. After reading the whole (six page) manual, put it to work. I waited about 14 minutes (the machine says 9-12); then I checked the results.

What I found was that although it was on it's way to being soft-serve and tasted great, it was not cold enough. I guess the bowl or the ingredients had not been chilled enough.I popped the mixture in the bowl back into the freezer and waited. Longingly.

After about two hours, I tried the mixture again. Success! It was indeed soft-serve ice cream. The flavor was pretty one note, as expected from such a simple recipe. But it was tasty none the less! Next, I decided to mix things up by making use of the 1/3 cup of chocolate chunks left in the cupboard and the last four candy canes sitting around the house.

After adding the mix-ins, the ice cream was even more soupy than with the first go with vanilla; it definitely needed more time in the freezer. Although I held off a whole hour, until after dinner, it was still very soft and melty.

I ate it anyway.

Bottom line: The pros of the machine include its reasonable price, small size, adorableness, and ease of use. On the other hand, neither of the ice creams I tried to make were ready right out of the machine, and it can only make about one serving at a time. Overall, however, I'm a fan of this item and the recipe.

Vanilla Ice Cream

Makes: 24 ounces
2 Cup Half and Half
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Sugar

1 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla

Add ins:
4 Crushed Candy Canes
1/4 Cup bittersweet chocolate chunks

Combine ingredients in a 1- quart container with a tight fitting lid. Shake until sugar is dissolved. Keep refrigerated. (I would recommend several hours.) Follow the instructions provided with your ice cream maker.

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