I have been looking at getting an ice cream maker to indulge myself and did some research. This ice cream maker has been recommended on several cooking websites. I finally bought the Gaggia as "retail therapy" in a sudden moment of madness and although it is more expensive than the ones that you have to prefreeze, I have no regrets.
It arrived well packed and is ready to use after standing for 12 hrs to allow the coolant to settle because it has a built in freezer. It is well built and is a nice rectangular shape, but is not easy to move about so it is better if you have an allocated space for it on the desktop.
It is extremely easy to operate, there are 3 buttons: 1/ to start freezing 2/ timer 3/ to start the mixing paddle.
To make ice cream, you pre-cool it for 5 mins, start the paddle, pour in the ice cream mix and you get lovely ice cream 20-30mins later.
It comes with a removable bowl that fits inside the fixed bowl. If you use the removable bowl you have to put a little bit of alcohol in between the fixed and removable bowl to help conduction, it says "alimentary alcohol or spirit" in the instruction book, I use gin and have no problems. You can make ice cream in either the fixed or removable bowls and so can have different batches one after the other. I have so far only use the removable one as I think it is easier to clean as you can take it out of the machine. It is cylindrical in shape and easy to clean once you have removed the paddle.
It can make 600g of ice cream in one go, which translates to roughly half the volume of the bowl in ice cream mixture as the ice cream expands as it freezes and air is added by the mixing process.
The instruction booklet comes with some classic Italian ice cream, sherbet, long drinks and granite recipes, but there are plenty of variations that you can find on the internet. I have been randomly changing the ingredients and have yet to make a batch that doesn't taste wonderful. e.g. I ran out of cream and made chocolate ice cream with double the quantity of milk instead of half milk and half cream and it still turns out lovely, an excellent texture, smooth with no lumps or bits of ice. I have also tried mango-tofu ice cream with soya milk just to try something different and found that just as yummy and less rich (better for the waistline).
Best of all you don't have to plan a day ahead to make ice cream, all you need is to get the ingredients and switch the machine on 5mins before you have the mix ready. Press the button when you serve dinner and it will be ready when you finish your main course, perfect for having people round!! The only thing is, you can hear it churning, so if you can't bear noise at all, you will need somewhere out of the way to put it, but then it is only for half an hour.
If you have never made ice cream before (like me), you will probably find a blender handy for making the ice cream mix. Other than that, it couldn't be simpler. You have total control over what goes in the ice cream, fresh ingredients, no preservatives and you can have whatever you want, whenever you want!! Perfect!!