A good ice cream machine is a tough thing to find. Go ahead, check Best Buy, Brands Mart, and other appliance pull-out flyers. You'll see blenders, toasters, milk foamers, and just about anything you can think of sticking a plug on. But no ice cream machine. If you go online, as I did, you'll come across a small selection of ice cream makers that start at around $100 -- unless you want to add rock salt around the freezer canister, in which case the machines come cheaper. Alas, while perusing a Sur la Table in San Francisco, I came across a Cuisinart Automatic Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker -- for $49.95. It is made mostly of plastic, comes in five or six bright colors, and churns out great ice cream and sorbets.
My Cuisinart arrived in the mail just days after a Sur la Table opened in Aventura. Sur la Table in Aventura is good news for you, because when I explain how cool it is to have an ice cream machine, you're going to want to run out and buy one, and now you won't have to run to California. Of course you can always purchase it at Sur La Table's website.
The day the Cuisinart arrived was the coldest day of the year. And there may still be too much nip in the air to have you craving icy treats. But who knows how long this deal will last? Come summer, when the heat makes your tongue so parched it feels like a soccer team wearing sandpaper shoes has run roughshod over it, and I'm sharing nifty ice cream recipes with readers, you're going to wish you bought one now.
Banana ice cream with toasted coconut & chocolate chips
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No, I am not getting anything free from Cuisinart or Sur la Table. Short Order Best Buy is about things we are truly enthusiastic about. How enthusiastic? I currently have some banana ice cream dripping down my grinning chin. Actually, I just made that up. The banana ice cream is in the freezer "firming". That's how this thing works -- after about twenty minutes, you get a sorbet or ice cream that's the consistency of partially melted soft-serve ice cream. You have to put it in the freezer for awhile -- twenty minutes usually does the trick -- and then the proper texture is achieved.
Sometimes, for a richer ice cream, I'll make a custard with eggs, cool it, and use that as the base. There are all sorts of variations, including using yogurt, low-fat milk, etc. First sorbet I prepared was culled from a bag of organic Florida tangerines. I juiced the suckers, added simple syrup, and yowza, it was good. Come to think of it, I don't think I've topped that one yet. Got the machine in December.
I know what you're thinking: What about frozen cocktails? No problem, although if you're adding a lot of alcohol, it's better to freeze the base to slurpy consistency and then add the booze when it's done.
Cocktail party hint: Make a kick-ass Bloody Mary mix, whirl it in the ice cream maker, put a scoop into a martini glass and fill with chilled vodka. Call it a "deconstructed" Bloody Mary and it is sure to impress or confuse your guests.
So that's why I like my Cuisinart machine. One negative: Not the prettiest styling in the world. One last positive: Unlike many products that say "easy to clean" and are anything but, this one really is.
Sur la Table
19501 Biscayne Blvd., Miami