ice cream, frozen yogurt maker
My "signature" flavors include a Chai icecream (just loose Tazo Chai leafs and the basic custard base) and a cinnamon/nutmeg icecream. I always wanted to create a good pumpkin icecream from scratch but found a pint and haagen dazs vanilla and a cup of libby's pumpkin pie mix to do the job perfectly and cheaply.
I got a $50 generic model for Christmas this year and it's the best thing that ever happened to me. I've had amazing luck with everything from vanilla to butterscotch to coconut chocolate to an AMAZING orange sherbet made with tangerines and blood oranges. I'm an ice cream snob, too and now I refuse to buy it, only make it.
My favorite recipe is very very basic and very easy:
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
I use 2 cups of half and half (and I've actually found that fat-free half and half has the best consistency of ANY ice cream I've made, however, it also has High Fructose Corn Syrup so I won't use it - I use organic Half and Half). Whisk all of this together and pour it in. I have scalded one cup of half and half and added in vanilla bean instead...quite good. Or for chocolate, scald one cup, add in 3-4oz of unsweetened chocolate, let it cool and then whisk in other ingredients. For the butterscotch I did all of the above but used half of the sugar and melted in butterscotch morsels. There is no end to what you can try.
I've been informed that some would never eat ice cream without cooking the eggs first but we've never had a problem and I make all kinds of thing with raw eggs - just don't give it to pregnant women!
Any frozen treat comes out better initially if you allow the ingredients to get quite cold before putting them in the machine. Most come out very soft or like a milkshake but once put into the freezer for a few hours, are perfect.
The sherbet recipe was amazing:
1 1/2 T. grated orange rind
1 1/2 C. sugar
1/4 C. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 C. fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 t. vanilla
4 C. very cold (low-fat) milk (I used whole milk)
I used whole milk. For my ice cream maker this was a double batch so be sure to check if you should half this for your machine.
I have not had any luck with frozen yogurt and minimal success with lower fat options. I had success with fat-free evaporated milk but it became icy fairly quickly.
Good luck. Hope this was helpful.
Thanks to both replies. I used the Cook's recipe and I didn't care for the strong yogurt taste. Unlike friends, I like my froyo to taste like ice cream, not like frozen yogurt. I like the stuff you get at TCBY. I haven't accomplished that yet. It was OK, but it certainly wasn't as good as my regular ice cream.
If you enjoy frozen treats, then def. invest in a homemade ice cream maker. Agree w/ others that you shouldn't pay too much (<$75). Cuisinart model is probably the best value. I used to have a manual, hand-crank model that gave me a good arm workout, but go for the automatic one.
While I've tried making all kinds of flavors, my absolute favorite is a simple vanilla bean. Love to serve it w/ macerated berries or peaches during summer. My friends rave about this every time I have made it.
My attempts at other flavors haven't been as successful. While chocolate flavor can be good, the texture has always come out kinda chalky or off. If you like more "complicated" kinds of ice creams, then making them well at home will pose more of a challenge IMO. Mix-ins can become icy or too hard, etc.
Get a recipe book to help you along. I picked up a small book called "The Best of Ice Cream" from a bargain section that has been pretty good.
Another vote for the Cuisinart, which I bought on line for around $30. If you're not in a hurry, they often go on sale at Macy's, Crate and Barrel, or Williams Sonoma. The best deal I've seen at WS is $50 for the machine and an extra freezing bowl. Also check slickdeals.net or amazon.com for reasonable prices. I really would try not to pay more than $50.
I've been very happy with my Cuisinart one too, which I got very cheap at a yard sale. I've made ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, sugar free ice cream, fat free ice cream, etc. It is really fun to make and there are a million recipes out there. I'm not even a huge ice cream fan and I've enjoyed it a lot.
The only downside is when you make it yourself, you realize how much fat is in full fat ice cream so you aren't quite as oblivious as you are when you eat a pint of B&J.
i have one of the $50 cuisinart brand ice cream machines and it works great. my only problem is that some of the parts are made with rather flimsy plastic and break easily so you have to be really careful with it. but they work great for making ice cream and other frozen treats.