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Ice cream machines ready when you are

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There are so many delicious options for creating your own sorbet that you’ll want to make one right away. Trouble is, most home ice cream makers require that you freeze the churning bowl for about 24 hours before using. Enter the ice cream maker with a built-in compressor, which allows for practically instant frozen gratification with the flip of a switch. In the past, their bulky size and steep price tag ($800 to $1,000) kept these machines out of most home kitchens. But now that there are smaller, less expensive models on the market, these machines are something to consider.

The biggest pros: Not only can you make sorbet (or ice cream) when you want, but if you want to make more than one flavor (and in the case of those sorbets, you will), there’s no lag time between batches while the bowl refreezes.

The biggest cons: These machines are more expensive than the frozen-bowl models (which cost around $50), and they take about twice as long to churn the ice cream (an hour or more compared to 25 to 30 minutes in the frozenbowl models).

Of the compressor ice cream makers we took for a spin, we liked the following two best, both for ease of use and quality of results.

Cuisinart Ice 100 Compressor Ice Cream Maker
6-cup capacity, $260
The simple design of this basic unit (above right) makes it intuitive to use. It includes a lid with a hatch to add mixins like nuts and chocolate chips, two different mixing paddles (one for sorbet and one for ice cream), a handle to lift out the bowl, and a digital display with a countdown timer that alerts you when your frozen treat is ready.

Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Compressor
6-cup capacity, $399
If the Cuisinart feels a little plain vanilla, the Breville (above left) is a hot fudge sundae with a cherry on top. The most expensive of the units we tried, it comes with all kinds of extras: a smart sensor that detects the hardness of the mixture, child locks for the buttons, and a “precool” feature that helps shorten churning time. Multiple settings allow you to customize your ice cream’s consistency, while a “hold” feature keeps the ice cream at the preferred consistency for up to three hours. It even plays an ice cream truck tune when the ice cream is done churning, which doesn’t a effect results one iota; it just made us smile.


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