Question: With so many super premium ice creams available to please all palates, why would you want to make ice cream at home?
A--It's a labor of love.
B--Influenced by the fitness boom, you want to go au-naturel with your choice of fresh ingredients.
C--It's economical, depending on the basic ingredients and goodies you add.
D--It's a show, a form of home entertainment and fun.
E--Family members want to lick that paddle--after all, ice cream tastes best when it's soft.
If you checked all of the above, join the homemade ice cream makers' club. But even the most dedicated members may want to take a modernistic approach by replacing that old hand-cranked wooden ice cream tub that uses bags of salt.
One of the finest compact electric ice cream makers around is the Viva Gelatiera Compact ($250) from Nikkal Industries. This sleek, Italian-made machine operates quietly. Although it takes about an hour, it produces a smooth, creamy ice cream. Having a narrow body, it takes less counter space than other more expensive models. However, because it is extremely heavy, it may be wise to find a fixed spot for it.
Uses Some Salt
The Viva uses salt but not bags of it. Instead, it requires about two tablespoons of brine (one-third salt and two-thirds hot water) with the cooling unit. The removable stainless steel container, which has a handle, plus the blade and spatula can be washed in hot water or in the dishwasher.
Another advantage with the Viva is that if you want to prepare several flavors of ice cream in succession, you also can use the stationary container that houses the removable container or purchase extra containers available through your dealer.
About two years ago, the compact non-electric, no-salt, no-ice Donvier ice cream maker with a freezable cylinder froze all competition. It didn't take long for the ice to melt and leak, as a string of contenders rushed with similar versions. This year, a new generation of compact no-ice, no-salt ice cream freezers is popping up, trying to take the lead by adding a motorized instead of hand-cranked feature to the original design.
National Presto Industries Inc. describes its Ice Cream Now ($73.98) as a self-stirring, automatic electric frozen dessert maker. It comes with a chilling bucket that is placed in the freezer for seven to 10 hours before using. The frozen canister is placed onto the base and topped with the see-through cover. The motorized top is then positioned and the unit is switched on. Preferably chilled, the ice cream ingredients are then poured into the unit through the opening in the cover. Although the dessert is ready in about 15 to 30 minutes, it can be stored in the freezer for additional hardening.
Our last device doesn't make ice cream per se, but it gives plain, ready-made vanilla (or other flavor) ice cream, ice milk, frozen yogurt or sherbet an extra flavor boost. One of the most talked about electric gadgets at the national housewares show in Chicago last spring, the Glacee Belgique ($299) from International Food Equipment Inc. has finally arrived in America.
Made in Belgium, there is no mystique in Glacee Belgique. "It's a down-size version of a commercial machine in Europe that costs $5,000," explained Bob Klopfenstein, president of International Food Equipment Inc. "The stainless steel machine which produces a type of soft serve dessert has been adapted for the home setting."
Now you can please your guests and family without stacking 31 flavors or so of ice cream in your freezer. "We're talking about instant gratification," Klopfenstein said. "You can come home after work and make your quick and easy dessert just by adding to a scoop any flavor you may have in the house."
Here's how it works: Start with a large scoop (or two small scoops) of ice cream and place it in the tilted cone-shaped cup. Add a half-inch piece of fruit or, say, a peanut butter cup, cream-filled chocolate cookie or peppermint candy to the ice cream. Tilt back the cup, pull the handle on the side to activate the machine, simultaneously placing an ice cream cone or bowl under the cup. Hold the handle down and wait for the soft ice cream to come out, swirling the cone slightly.
A powerful auger crushes the ingredient to blend with the ice cream, which is also softened to a 17-degree temperature. "It is at this temperature that people can get a good taste of the ice cream flavor; that's why the ice cream is so good," said Mary Bragg, vice president the Brady Marketing Co., while demonstrating the product. Bragg added that her favorite to work with is ice milk because of the delicious transformation produced just by adding fresh fruit or other confections.