Ice cream is easy to make at home with the help of an ice cream maker. Many models are small and quite inexpensive, making them a good investment if you’re planning to make ice cream on a regular basis. I had a small Cuisinart machine that I used regularly for a number of years with great success. Like many at-home machines, that model came with a bulky freezer bowl that needed to be chilled for at least 12 hours before use and it could make one batch of ice cream before the bowl needed to be chilled again. The alternative to a machine like this is to get one that has a built in compressor freezer that freezes the ice cream while the machine works and does not require any pre-frozen parts. These machines are bigger, bulkier and more expensive than the smaller machines, but they can turn out batch after batch of ice cream with no breaks needed. When I decided to upgrade my ice cream making equipment several months ago, I opted for this type of ice cream machine and picked out a Cuisinart Supreme Ice Cream Maker (and they now have a new model).
Commercial ice cream makers use compressor-style freezers to produce ice cream rapidly and the Cuisinart Supreme Ice Cream Maker does this on a smaller scale. It will turn out multiple batches of ice cream in a very short period of time. It generally takes 30-60 minutes to take the ice cream from a chilled mixture to a frozen dessert, depending on the thickness of the ice cream base. This is longer than a true commercial machine will take, but keep in mind that this is a fraction of the cost of a commercial machine, too. I chose this model from Cuisinart because I had had good success with other Cuisinart ice cream makers and it was also very affordable for this style of ice cream maker (some other compressor freezer countertop machines can run upwards of $500; currently, this machine is about half that price on Amazon). The machine takes up a fair amount of counter space (roughly the size of a bread machine and weighing about 30 lbs), and even though it is easy to store, you’re really only going to need this type of machine if you like to make homemade ice cream on a very regular basis.
I found the machine easy to set up and to work with. It makes 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream at a time and takes, as indicated above, about 30-60 minutes per batch. Chilling the mixture beforehand is not required by the directions, but it definitely cut down on mixing time (shaving off at least 10 minutes per batch) and is well worth doing if you don’t mind making the ice cream base in advance. The stainless steel ice cream bowl inside the machine is easy to remove and clean, ready to churn another batch just minutes after another is done. The finished ice cream is relatively soft, and while it can be served immediately, you will probably want to chill it for a short time in the freezer before you decide to make triple-scoop ice cream cones with it.
The primary downside of the machine is that it is very noisy. That said, most ice cream machines are noisy and this wouldn’t be enough to put me off of using the machine, but it does mean that you won’t want to make ice cream while someone is sleeping near by. I noted that the finished ice cream was slightly softer than my freezer bowl model produced, as the churning arm is more sensitive to thicker mixtures and stops turning a couple of minutes before my old ice cream maker would. It is also worth noting is that the churning arm isn’t really strong enough to mix in large mix-ins, such as nuts, chocolate chunks and pieces of fruit very well, and it is best to stir these in after the base has churned. This is typical of most ice cream makers and isn’t really a product flaw (and certainly isn’t for me), just something to remember as you work.
This isn’t the machine for the occasional ice cream maker because of its size, but if you make ice cream frequently (or want some incentive to do it more often), this is a great machine to have in the kitchen. It is great to be able to make batch after batch of ice cream with no pre-freezing necessary. The Cuisinart works well, is easy to use and will probably keep my freezer well-stocked with homemade ice cream for quite a long time to come.