The Inside Scoop
Which machines whip up the best ice cream?
Ease of Use: 6.5
Time to Completion: 7
Final Product: Philly, 8; French, 8
Total Philly: 25.5
Total French: 25.5
If you already own a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, you can purchase a special gel canister bowl for making ice cream. This makes a nice alternative to the Cuisinart. The advantage over the Cuisinart is the adjustable speed, allowing you to whip up a lighter, more aerated batter; and the mixer makes the initial batter-making—whipping the eggs into the sugar, then mixing in milk and cream—that much easier. Again, gel-canister technology produces a pretty sturdy Philadelphia, and an adequate French. I do think aerating the batter during freezing made this a lighter, slightly yummier ice cream—and you get double the capacity of the Cuisinart. Still, the price for these attachments—a canister, a plastic paddle—strikes me as absurdly high.
Ease of Use: 7
Time to Completion: 7
Elegance: In conjunction with the beautiful mixer, an 8.
Final Product: Philly, 8; French, 5
Total Philly: 30
Total French: 27
Cuisinart ICE 50BC Supreme
$246.51 on Amazon.com
Cuisinart recently added a compressor model to its ice-cream offerings, and they've cut some corners to keep the price down. The big one: Where most compressors take about 20 to 30 minutes to brew up ice cream, the ICE 50BC is supposed to take 30 to 40 minutes (or more). I was wary that a longer freezing time could result in larger ice crystals, which are more detectable to the tongue, thus giving your ice cream a grittier bite. But I was pleasantly surprised, as were my tasters. I found that the ICE 50BC did make a very nice ice cream, and in well under 40 minutes. A brushed stainless-steel box with no frilly-silly add-ons, the machine is also beautifully designed.
Ease of Use: 7.5
Time to Completion: 4
Final Product: Philly, 9; French, 8
Total Philly: 29.5
Total French: 28.5
Musso 4080 Lussino Dessert Maker
$594.95 on Amazon.com
If you're truly serious about making, and perfecting, a custard-style ice cream, I highly recommend shelling out the extra bucks for a Musso. If forced to come up with a downside, besides the price ... well, the Musso's bowl is not removable, so cleaning is a small hassle. And make sure you have the counter space: It is heavier and larger than the Lello or Cuisinart. Otherwise, this is a gem. The entire device, down to the bowl and paddle, is stainless steel; and the Musso's motor whips considerably more air into the batter than others. The freezer is more powerful, so in 20 to 25 minutes, you have a fluffy, soft-serve ice cream. About two hours later, after sitting in your freezer: Sublime! The final product, even with a crude, Philly-style batter, was exponentially better than that of any other machine, to a degree that amazed tasters. If you want to create top-notch ice cream, this is your dream appliance. No competition.
Ease of Use: 8
Time to Completion: 9
Final Product: Philly, 9.5; French, 9.5
Total Philly: 36
Total French: 36
Stephen Metcalf is Slate's critic at large. He is working on a book about the 1980s.
Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty.