Pros: Fun, great variety, few parts, easy to clean
Cons: On/off switch, need two hands
I really can't say how I first found out about this product (whether it was on TV or seen in the stores or a catalog) so Black & Decker's Marketing Department deserves kudos because I remembered this product and wanted it...BAD.
I love soft serve ice cream and this product seemed to fit the bill especially since I didn't have to go through the motions of cream, salt, ice, etc. that you go through with other home ice cream makers.
This product allows you to use store-bought ice cream, sherbert or frozen yogurt as a base and turn it into soft-serve ice cream.
This was on my wish list and my mother happily obliged me and my kids early for the holidays. They were so excited to try this out and I must admit, I was curious about it too.
The Black & Decker IC 200 (or Arctic Swirl as it is known) only contains 5 parts (the electric base, cone, funnel, plunger and lid). The parts are plastic and are easy to wash either by hand or in the washer.
The directions on assembly and working the machine were not difficult to understand and within 10 minutes we were ready to make our first batch of soft-serve.
You are advised to stick the cone and funnel portions into the freezer for about 5 minutes and use ice cream that is rather hard from your freezer. They also give you recommendations on additions and pretty much everything is fair game except for marshmallows, raisins, dried fruits and gummy candies.
In order for this to work, you have to assemble the maker, then put about 2 scoops of ice cream into the funnel. Then you add some mix-ins (chocolate chips, cereal, cookies, candy, strawberries, nuts, coconut, etc). Then you repeat the process until the funnel is full.
Then you place a bowl or cone at the opening, press the on/off/pulse button and push down on the plunger and wait for the ice cream to come out.
Our first attempt was with cookie dough ice cream and miniature Reese Cups. While it didn't look as good as the picture on the box, my kids didn't care and enjoyed our first try. We have since used this 2 more times (vanilla ice cream with Hershey's Kisses, and vanilla ice cream with cereal).
The Arctic Swirl somehow mixes the ice cream and mix-ins together and does a fine job of chopping up the mix-ins so it resembled more of a McFlurry meets Dairy Queen.
We love our Arctic Swirl and will use this product over and over again, especially in the summer. I think this will also be a big hit at parties too.
My only complaints are that the on/off button is hard to operate and is just a push button covered with rubber. It's hard to turn it on just so and I'm afraid that eventually this will break. You also need two people to operate this if you are filling up ice cream cones.
And finally, this will only make enough soft serve for about 2 people and then you have to repeat the process again.
Clean up is easy as the pieces can either be hand-washed or done in the dishwasher (top rack).
This is a fun little non-essential kitchen gadget that will serve us well for many years and will not serve me well in the calorie department.