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Hamilton Beach Half Pint Soft-Serve Ice Cream Maker Review

Home Test of Hamilton Beach Half Pint Ice Cream Maker 68550C

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Hamilton Beach Half Pint Soft-Serve Ice Cream Maker Review

Hamilton Beach Half Pint Ice Cream Maker

Photo © Hamilton Beach
Ice cream has to be my most favorite treat. But unfortunately it's also my downfall when it comes to weight, but I do try to watch the ingredients and making ice cream at home, makes that much easier. So, it's a no brainer that I wanted to test Hamilton Beach's two-bowl Half Pint™ Soft-Serve Ice Cream Maker.

Product Description:

    Hamilton Beach Half Pint™ Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker 68550C
  • Includes two 12 oz Freezer bowls
  • Motorized lid
  • Makes ice cream in 6 to 12 minutes
  • Make and serve from freezer bowls
  • Recipes included
  • 120v, 12.5W
  • The Half Pint comes in blue, green or pink.
  • Learn more from Hamilton Beach Canada; Hamilton Beach USA
  • Retails in the $20 - $30 range

How the Hamilton Beach Half Pint Performed

June 19, 2011
While most ice cream makers generally make enough ice cream for a family, the Half Pint is perfectly suited for one or two persons, or enough for four 6oz servings. And that can be very handy when you don't feel like taking out a large appliance for a little treat. The two bowls (12 oz) are also easier to store in the freezer than a larger one. You can make a smaller batch of ice cream if you like, from 6 to 12 oz per bowl and you need to watch not to overfill with the additives (fruit etc), so around 10 oz is best if you plan on adding fruit midway through the process.

I froze the bowls overnight (full 24 hours) each time - basically washing them immediately and leaving them in the freezer till next use. I must say that this is the simplest ice cream maker I've ever used - the paddle pushes into the cover, which snaps into the motorized head. Then the process is pretty simple - put cold ingredients in the frozen bowl and top with the motorized head. Turn on and watch it slowly stiffen, then turn off when you've reached the soft-serve stage.

If you're making for one, you only need one bowl. Using the ice cream recipes included, it made a very soft, soft-serve ice cream. As noted in the instructions, the less sugar, the more ice crystals in the ice cream and there was always a thin layer of ice cream that froze to the interior of the bowl. The ice cream did have ice crystals every time, even when I increased the sugar or more cream and less milk. I also tried making frozen yogurt, simply by using a container of store-bought yogurt - nothing added. It churned to a stiffer soft serve much quicker than the ice cream. A little interruption to add a few frozen raspberries and continued churning to about 8 minutes total. You can eat the soft serve right from the freezer bowl and a plastic spoon is recommended. Since the bowl is cold to hold onto, I found it better to transfer the soft serve to a serving dish, but it melts faster this way.

According to the manual, the hardness of the ice cream is dependent on the freezer being very cold, so I adjusted the freezer by lowering the temperature from my standard mid-range setting for other tests and found that it indeed made a big difference. It shortened the time required to get ice cream and frozen yogurt to a soft-serve consistency - around 8 minutes. Other things that helped: All ingredients should be very cold including vanilla, fruit or chocolate chips/shavings. Vanilla with a high concentration of alcohol may also hinder the soft serve process; try instead, imitation vanilla. Keep all ingredients in the fridge until ready to add to the Half Pint bowl. And keep the bowls in the freezer till everything is cold and ready.

Overall Impression

Simple and size wins with the Half Pint. It's much easier and quicker to make ice cream or frozen yogurt for one or two, than with a larger ice cream maker. Clean-up is also much quicker and really couldn't be any easier. Follow the basic rules of having all ingredients cold and a very frozen bowl and you'll have soft serve in a few minutes. Soft serve is the key word here; don't expect results to be hard. This is typical of most home use ice cream makers. You could let the ice cream sit in the bowls or place them in the freezer for a few minutes before serving to stiffen, but bowls do thaw quickly if left out of the freezer.

I didn't detect any flaws in the appliance while testing and it does what it claims to do - make soft serve. The only thing I didn't like is that the ice cream always had ice crystals and was not as creamy as I would like. I do feel that experimenting further with different ingredients could lead to creamier results.

Frozen yogurt on the other hand is refreshing, creamy and so easy to make. But expect it to retain that 'sharp' yogurt taste in the soft serve state, unlike some frozen yogurts that taste more like ice cream than yogurt. I prefer making frozen yogurt with the Half Pint and find it's worth having simply for that. This ice cream maker is not really suitable for a large family, but sufficient for average servings for up to three or four.

It does give you the option of making small batches especially when it comes to experimenting with more expensive food alternatives or making treats for those on special or restrictive diets - something that's inconvenient with a larger appliance. The price of the Half Pint is very reasonable and it is a fun appliance to use. It's also ideal for those with limited storage or for the RV - as long as the bowls fit in the RV freezer. The paddle and motorized head/cover assembly takes very little storage.

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Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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