[Photograph: Williams-Sonoma]

There's nothing like freshly made ice cream to wind down after a hot summer day, and now isn't a bad time to buy an ice cream maker if you don't already have one. Cuisinart, widely considered the leader in the niche of ice cream makers, has just released a new model that's more efficient than its ancestors—better yet, it's been on sale at Williams-Sonoma for the last week ($60 instead of $110 right here).

But don't think that the new model is terribly different from the one we've all been seeing for the last who-knows-how-many years. The box boasts a new paddle mechanism that works up to 25 percent faster than previous versions, but the changes end there. Ice cream does come together quickly, but 25 percent isn't an extremely dramatic change from what you'd otherwise be used to. The average on my tests turned out to be 15 to 20 minutes a batch, starting from chilled liquid, shaving off perhaps five minutes—an accurate assessment on Cuisinart's end, and an improvement that's not insignificant but also not life-changing.

The design is as streamlined as ever, with just one button to turn on the machine and nothing else at all. A short cord is cumbersome, even on small countertops, and it's one of my only gripes. Thankfully, Cuisinart has responded to years and years of feedback and kept the best parts of old models: namely, the extra freezer bowl. Aside from the sheer convenience for cleaning and dual-flavor-making, it makes your purchase seem much thriftier—like you're getting two in one, even if you're not really. At least for me, though, it's what convinced me that this model is better than the actual dual flavor machine, which takes up twice the space. And if you're not keen on two bowls, the whole thing comes out to $50 (a few bucks cheaper) sans second bowl right here. Too many options are never a bad thing.

One other welcome returning feature is the mix-in panel at top—it makes pouring easy as mess-free, and it provides a great taste-test window for still-too-impatient-to-wait-in-this-heat eaters like yours truly. And don't let yourself be fooled: Though the paddle might not seem to submerge deep enough to stir smaller batches, making single pints is not out of the question at all—it actually works just as well as those larger batches for entertaining.


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