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We all love our ice cream, especially in the summer. It's healthier than soft drinks and can take the edge of your thirst at just the right time of the day. But there maybe a bitter taste in the mouth when we learn the unlikely news that Margaret Thatcher may have invented ice cream or, at least, whipped ice cream. I had heard this before and believed it an urban myth but as she was a trained scientists and worked at a food factory before she became an MP its not impossible. A quick Google reveals that she had worked "developing emulsifiers for ice-creams for Joe Lyons from 1949-51". The emulsifiers allow ice cream to hold air and so be a lighter product, saving ice cream makers serious money as they simply used less ingredients, replaced by air. Mrs. Thatcher had a lot of policies that were hot air. Mrs Thatcher also worked in the cake and pie filling departments so no doubt the creator of pork pies. She also researched saponification (soap-making). That may have come in help when she went up north.
I think we can safely say the Iron Lady didn't invite ice cream and my filler to bulk out this piece is now over. We are here to discuss the Magimix-le-glacier-1-5, an essential piece of kit for every yummy mummy's kitchen. If you are American and reading this a Yummy Mummy is a 'soccer mom', a middle-class mom who looks good all the time and ferries the kids everywhere in the family SUV whilst daddy brings home the bacon (and, if you are Jewish, the salary). Middle-class moms love to express their wealth and independence by buying all manner of contraptions to make things in the kitchen and usually a product sponsored by a TV cook, like yogurt and ice cream and popcorn makers. Posh moms want the divine right to be able to make everything they buy in Waitrose with a machine - if their nanny is busy.
The box is big and square and you have to put the machine together which stand about the same height as bed side lamp. You have a mixer bowl (1.5 Ltrs), a beater, a motor and a plastic widget thing which will fix the beater to the motor. You must align them exactly right or it won't work. Once you have it in place there's a plastic hood that holds it all together. The Mixing bowl is quite heavy as it is filled with a special quick freeze gel that will freeze your ice-cream mixture as it churns. The paddle and attachment seem to be made sturdily enough and designed to stir each way. Now the actually machine doesn't freeze the ice cream so you have to put the bowl in the freezer overnight. That gel thing aids that process. All this really does is stir. As I say. It's a statement, not practical.
To make the ice cream you will need cream, of course, some sort soft fruit flavoring and a bit of sugar and salt. Eggs are optional if you are going for the more custard like ice-cream. Following the instructions to mix those ingredients you then your pour the mix through a hole in the plastic top thing and prepare to switch it on to churn. The hole isn't that big so prepare for a mess. Yes, it doesn't mix the basic ingredients first. It also doesn't tell you when it's done and so you have to keep sticking your finger in to check consistencies. If it slops out of the top or slows down it may be a good time to stop and the emulsion over. You won't get it right the fast time, or the second time, and by then you will give up, as I did. It's far cheaper and quicker to buy a block or tub from Tesco.
I got this through a competition with an ice cream promotion and decided not to stick it on Ebay for some reason. Price wise it's about £50 new. These sorts of things are so not me If I'm honest. But I gave it a go and if anyone wants a lightly used ice cream maker for the summer than drop us a line (I'm joking). If you want to smash one up with a sledgehammer to get Margaret Thatcher out of your mind once and for all then so be it. I really don't know if this works how it should as I never achieved eatable ice cream. It didn't taste great and as runny as the ice cap right now. But I do know its ideal middle-class mum kitchen kit and if she feels she is as important in the house with all her Jamie Oliver zucchini peelers and Nigella Lawson egg boilers than she would have been in the career she gave up to have kids then so be it.
I received the Magimix 1.5l Ice-cream Maker for my birthday this year and was just so excited, we were just in the middle of a hot spell and it was the perfect present to receive at the time. The questions is, a couple of months on is it still behaving as the perfect present or is it just one of those kitchen gadgets that's taking up space on top of the cupboards?
The ice-cream maker comes in a box about 1ft square with a height of about 18 inches I suppose. Ripping open the box (remembering to recycle all the cardboard) you come across more cardboard which is cunningly vacuumed to the base of the box, call a friend and get them to help you extricate the machine from the box, it saves a lot of time and effort!
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
When you have all the bits and pieces out of the box lay them on the side and check you have everything. There aren't a great many pieces to the machine; you should have a mixer bowl type thing, a motor, a beater, a little plastic attachment which will fix the beater to the motor and a handy plastic cover which sits on top of the bowl thing joining all the pieces together. The Mixing bowl is quite heavy as it is filled with a special quick freeze gel that will freeze your ice-cream mixture as it churns. The paddle and attachment seem to be made sturdily enough and have had multiple uses so far.
ASSEMBLY (legs crossed, arms folded, sit up straight!)
The small plastic attachment pokes into the motor, the plastic cover now slots underneath the motor (it has a hole in for the plastic bit), slides backwards and clicks into place (I know it sounds hard but it's not!). The paddle then connects to the plastic attachment thingy and the whole caboodle sits on top of the mixing bowl.
Your first job after checking all the pieces are there, and playing at putting the thing together, should be to put the bowl into the freezer. The recommendation is that you freeze the bowl overnight but I found that about 6-7 hours froze the gel sufficiently to allow me to make my first batch of ice-cream. While you are waiting for the bowl to freeze you have the perfect opportunity to go out and buy your ingredients. Some staple items you will require for ice-cream making are cream, soft fruit or flavouring and eggs (if you are making custard based ice-cream). I always keep the mixing bowl in the freezer now, so that it's always ready for me when I need fresh ice-cream, it doesn't take up too much room and you can always keep things inside the bowl part.
HOW DOES IT WORK
For my first batch I made raspberry and blackberry ice-cream. To do this I whizzed about 1lb of soft fruit, adding to it a medium tub of double cream and some sugar to taste. I then put this in the fridge to keep cool whilst waiting for the bowl to freeze properly. When the mixing bowl was sufficiently frozen I quickly reassembled the machine and plugged it in. You have to get the motor bit exactly in the right place otherwise it won't work as there are some pins that must be aligned with the holes on the bowl in order for the motor to work. Once everything is correctly assembled you start the motor and slowly pour in the mixture. It is important that the motor is started prior to adding the mixture as the bowl will freeze the mixture into a lump and you won't be able to churn properly.
I must admit that getting the mixture into the machine is slightly more difficult than I first imagined. The plastic cover has a hole in it which you pour the mixture through, the hole is actually a lot smaller than you would expect and the process can have some rather messy and sticky consequences, my advice would be to have a cloth handy for wiping any spillages away. That way, if someone walks in the kitchen they won't be able to see what a total hash you are making of it. Once the mixture is in the machine you just leave it churning for about 20 minutes, depending on the consistency of ice-cream required. The machine is fairly loud when it's churning but this hasn't put me off using it at all, you can always shut the doors and turn the telly up!
HOW TO KNOW WHEN IT'S READY
A simple rule I apply here is that the ice-cream is invariably ready when one of the following occurs:
The motor starts struggling to get through the ice-cream mixture. Whilst normal for the machine to occasionally change direction whilst churning, it is important that you don't over burden the motor and expect it to churn a solid mass of ice-cream. If you want super hard ice-cream you can take it out the machine when it is of a thick consistency and put in the freezer.
The ice-cream mixture starts splurging out of the top of the machine. When you are churning ice-cream mixture you are actually adding air into it which, along with the coldness of the bowl, helps to thicken the ice-cream. Of course by adding air you are adding to the volume of the mixture (think about what happens when you whisk egg whites!). As the mixer only has a capacity for 1.5l of ice-cream you should be careful when adding your mixture and try to stop the machine before you get to the point when the ice-cream is fighting for escape from the mixing bowl.
You are so tempted by the prospect of ice-cream you have to have it NOW. If this should happen my advice is to get the mixture out the machine and tuck in, you can always make some more tomorrow!
After you have removed the ice-cream from the mixer it's time for the bit we all hate, washing up. Fortunately washing the Magimix machine is very simple, firstly the bowl really only needs a quick wash in warm soapy water; it has no little crevices on the inside so all the mixture comes out quite easily. The plastic paddle can be put in the dishwasher if needed but again some warm soapy water should suffice, similarly with the plastic attachment. The plastic cover should be disconnected from the motor and washed; again this would withstand being put into the dishwasher if required. The motor should just be wiped over with a damp cloth, water and electrics aren't really the best mix.
The tricky bits come when you have to dry the bowl. Everything else is really simple but you must make sure that the bowl is bone dry before starting your next pre-freeze. Remember the little holes that you need to align with pins to make the motor work? If these get filled with water the motor cannot click into place and you will have to dig out the ice with a sharp knife (not really recommended) or wait for the ice to melt before the motor will work. The first time I had this problem I thought I had broken the machine but I quickly worked out what was causing the problem.
The ice-cream that I have made from the recipes in the book that comes with the machine, and my own adaptations have all been successful. If you are a healthy eater and don't fancy stuffing your face with full fat ice-cream you could always try to make frozen yoghurt. I put 5 lemon cheesecake Muller Light yoghurts in the machine and the result was very tasty indeed. The machine also allows you to make sorbets and again recipes are provided in the booklet.
The consistency of ice-creams can vary depending on how you started them. If you start with a custard base the resultant ice-cream is much creamier and a bit easier to serve than ice-creams made with just cream as a base. Regardless of how you start the mixture, I have found all ice-creams have needed supplementary freezing after the churning has stopped. This is no great hardship though as you can always sneak a serving out first! You get enough ice-cream to fill a tub the same size as the one's you buy more expensive ice-creams like Carte D'or in comfortable. If you over fill the container you may need to use a 2l ice-cream tub to store the ice-cream in.
Yes, this is a highly recommended product. It produces quality ice-cream and although you may not be making any savings from buying ice-cream you can be assured that the ingredients are probably of a much superior quality, and you can control what goes in. It's very easy to use and cleaning isn't too difficult either. The only problem that you may have (like me) is that your freezer isn't big enough and you have to go and get a supplementary one (I recommend a smallish chest freezer!).
As I said the machine was a present to me but the machine costs around £40 for a white one or £60 for something similar in chrome. A worthwhile investment.
4 out of 5 stars from me, losing just the one for the ice in holes issue.
Just pre-freeze bowl for 12 hours in a 3-4 star freezer / Remove, replace lid, switch on and add your choice of ingredients / From just 20 minutes later you've made your very own delicious ice cream.