Ever wonder about a mix you've seen in the store? Is it any good? Could it replace something you'd otherwise make from scratch? Welcome to Mixed Review, where the whole point is putting mixes to the test! —The Mgmt.


[Photos: Lucy Baker]

Memorial Day weekend is here, which means it's finally time to bust out my ice cream maker. But who wants to stand over a hot stove cooking the custard base? Fortunately, there are a bunch of easy new ice cream mixes on the market. All you have to do is stir the mix into cold milk or cream and freeze.

Cookies and cream has always been one of my favorite flavors. I love the crunchy hunks of chocolate sandwich cookies, and the way the crumbs run through the ice cream and blend with the vanilla. So I was eager to test out Williams-Sonoma's Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Starter. It seems rather expensive ($12), but it's enough to make two quarts of ice cream.

20110529-153859-cookies-and-cream-mix-3.jpgPreparing the mix took about three minutes. All I had to do was whisk the starter with 1 1/2 cups of half-and-half. Then I stirred in 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream and transferred the mixture to my ice cream maker. About 30 minutes later (right before the ice cream was finished) I dumped in the packet of cookie pieces.

One of the things I liked best about this mix was the cookies. Williams-Sonoma certainly didn't scrimp! The pieces are big and chunky, and a lot of them have a layer of cream filling. There were enough of them to guarantee that every bite of the finished ice cream had at least one piece of cookie in it. Speaking as someone who has (many times) suffered the disappointment of a scoop of cookies and cream devoid of cookies, I couldn't have been happier.

The consistency of the ice cream was also excellent. It was as thick and rich as a store-bought premium ice cream, like Haagen Dazs. Sometimes homemade ice cream has an icy, granular texture, but this one was as smooth as silk.

My one complaint was that this mix didn't really offer anything new. Don't get me wrong—it was an exemplary version of cookies and cream. But as easy as it was to prepare, buying a pint of Haagen Dazs is still a whole lot easier. (And cheaper.) The Williams-Sonoma sales clerk who sold me the mix from had a tip: he added espresso to the half-and-half and cream to create a coffee base. It's solid advice. This mix is definitely worth making, but don't be afraid to get creative.


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