The Andrew James Professional Ice Cream Maker describes itself as a complete fully automatic package for ice cream creation. In the box you get the Ice Cream Maker, a removable motor, a removable 1 litre bowl with a handle attached, a mixing arm, a measuring cup, an ice cream scoop; and a 128 page recipe book is included too. The book has an expansive range of fundamental recipes which are simply explained.
This ice cream maker is a large and heavy kitchen appliance. The removable bowl accounts for less than 50% of its total size, the bulk of its body is where the freezing technology sits. It does look modern and somewhat elegant with its stainless steel exterior front and plastic black back. The overall body appearance is clean, not plastered with buttons and switches, which we like for aesthetic and usability reasons.
Setting up the machine in order to make ice cream takes less than 30 seconds. The inside of the machine has been well designed for both quick setup and cleaning. The order of setup is to insert the bowl, then the mixing arm, then the plastic top (aligning the plastic top with the mixing arm is initially a little tricky but once practised it's simple) and then the motor is placed on top. Having a removable motor is smart; if the motor was to burn out one day, you would only have to replace that part and not the entire machine. Now, after use, the one thing which can be a real pain with kitchen appliances is cleaning them. The Professional Ice Cream Maker is very easy to take apart, clean, wash and put back together. It takes less than 3 minutes to do.
The beauty and headline feature of the Andrew James Professional Ice Cream Maker is that the removable bowl doesn't have to be pre-frozen. This is because the ice cream machine has an inbuilt compressor which eliminates the need to pre-freeze. This feature alone makes the proposition of making ice cream when wanted or in a hurry attractive. Usually ice cream recipes require the mixture to be chilled before poured into the ice cream maker. However, room temperature mixture will work but will take a little longer to turn into ice cream. For optimised results the machine should be allowed to freeze by itself for 10 minutes we've found, with the removable bowl inserted, to bring the temperature into the high minus range, it can be as cold as -34°C before including the mixture and this definitely helps to make the ice cream quicker. The temperature does rise a little once the mixture is included, usually to the -20s°C, but we have seen it climb into the minus-teens on occasions.
Once both the mixture and the machine are ready, the mixture has to be poured into the ice cream maker. Now this design element is the least thought out part of the machine. The hole to pour the mixture through is located on the lid and it's so small that it makes the pouring process tricky and more messy than necessary. We were making chocolate cookie dough ice cream and stumbled into problems when trying to pour the mixture through the small hole as the chunks of dough simply wouldn't fit, so we had to remove the entire lid. After we made a few batches of ice cream we find it easier to pour the mixture straight into the bowl and then insert the bowl into the machine. The hole is really only adequate for adding nuts, small bits of fruit, etc., during an ice cream making session.
It churns the ice cream at a fixed non-adjustable pace, which is quite fast and very quiet along with the rest of the machine's operations. This allows the mixture to become airy very quickly, we've had some mixes more than double in size during this process. Because of this it allows the formation of large ice crystals which makes the ice cream very sandy and light. This style of ice cream is not for everybody, although we certainly enjoy it. If a denser ice cream is desired the machine has to churn shorter cycles and this is harder to control and to know when to stop. The ice cream may only be partly frozen at this stage and so will need immediate assistance from a freezer. The lack of control of the speed at which the plastic arms spin could definitely be a sore point for some people.
When a cycle has finished the machine will beep loudly to alert the user. Usually, before this happens, the ice cream becomes too solid to mix if the cycle duration has been set near the highest amount of 50 minutes, so the machine will go into freeze mode. You can either choose to keep it in the ice cream maker or stop the cycle and pour it into a tub to place into a freezer. We wouldn't recommend leaving the ice cream in the machine, by doing this, if the user isn't going to consume the ice cream straight away, it freezes to the sides of the removable bowl and is very difficult to remove.
The maximum quantity of ice cream that can be produced is 1 litre and we were happy with this. It's enough to serve at a dinner party or to consume as a family. So far we haven't had any attempt at making ice cream with this machine go horribly wrong, and we've certainly tried some very daring recipes, including a mince pie concoction. It's also far more enjoyable to consume ice cream with the knowledge that you have made it and definitely know what is in it. But ice cream isn't the only thing that can be made in this machine. It can make slush drinks, which we have tried and found the machine made exceptionally well; and we have also made sorbets and frozen yogurts which worked well, but again they are quite light in consistency
Controls & LED Display
Once the mixture is in the machine it needs to know how long the mixing cycle should last, the longest cycle is 50 minutes and any under is allotted in incremental jumps of ten minutes. Once the time is allocated, a simple press of the start button is needed and away it goes. We liked the simplicity of the controls; a kitchen appliance novice would find this a breeze to use. A backlit LED screen displays the time remaining and present temperature.
We have really enjoyed using the Andrew James Professional Ice Cream Maker. It will encourage anyone who owns it to make ice cream far more frequently due to its inbuilt compressor. It's also one of the cheapest ice cream machines with an inbuilt compressor on the market, retailing for £299.99.