My hubby and I both share a love for ice cream, so needless to say, we were delighted to get this electric ice cream maker as a Christmas gift.
The machine came with a little recipe booklet with instructions for several different flavours, including some low-fat options. It can make up to 1 1/2 quarts at a time, but we often choose to make less since there is just the two of us.
To make ice cream, you first need to freeze the metal insert of the machine. While it is in the freezer, you mix up the ice cream ingredients in a bowl, or a large glass 8-cup measuring cup (I like this best because it is easier to pour afterwards). When you are ready, you place the metal insert into the machine, put on the clear plastic lid, and turn on the "on" switch. This gets the auger-style paddle turning. Apparently, it is important to do this before adding the ice cream mixture, so that the mixture does not sit too long and stick to the frozen metal. This would cause freezer burn. To prevent this, there is an large open slot on top of the lid which you use to pour the mixture into the machine after it is on. Once this step is finished, you just have to sit back and wait. It takes about 1/2 an hour for the machine to churn your creamy mixture into soft, smooth ice cream!
All of the parts, except the motor (the green top part in the picture) can easily be taken apart and washed, which is really nice. It also goes together again quite effortlessly.
The whole process seems to be fool-proof, but it's not quite. My very first batch did not thicken at all. It just stayed a milky, sticky mess. We're still not sure why. Also, the machine makes soft ice cream, not hard. The pictures on the box are misleading that way.
Another thing we have noticed is that it isn't very cost-effective. Once you tally up the price of the ingredients such as cream and any add-ins (like fruit or chocolate chips), it is just as, or even more expensive to make your own ice cream than it is to buy it.
Overall, I would consider this a novelty item. It starts out fun, but eventually loses its appeal. We don't use it much on our own any more, but it is still nice to pull out when company comes. It is especially fun if we have guests with children, because kids like to help mix and watch their dessert being made.
(I'm not sure if this came with a warranty, which is why I left that rating blank.)