Tips & Techniques

A Slushie, Boozy Reason to Never Get Rid of Your Ice Cream Machine

August 17, 2016

I have a rule against single-use appliances in my kitchen and avoid tools that can’t perform multiple functions—I would rather improvise than give up precious kitchen real estate—but I make an exception for my ice cream maker. Recently, I discovered another use for my ice cream machine, further justifying its place in my little Brooklyn apartment: making boozy slushies, like frosé or the best ever piña colada.

My first ice cream maker, a pastel pink bucket made by Cuisinart, was a graduation gift from my college best friend’s parents. Having known me since high school, they understood my passion for ice cream, for the color pink (which had started ironically and transformed into a full-blown love affair), and for making things from scratch.

That summer, as I worked in a Rhode Island bicycle shop while trying to figure out what to do with my painting degree, I churned pints of ice cream twice a week. And I devoured them too, without adding an inch to my waistline because I was bike racing almost as often as I was plugging in the ice cream machine. There was burnt caramel and spicy chocolate, coffee with chunks of toffee, fresh mint, and a costly failed attempt at Champagne saffron sorbet from one of my fancy cookbooks. Ice cream was a priority (otherwise, I subsisted on rice and beans, discount vegetables, and dumpster-dived loaves of artisan bread).

Shop the Story

More: Watch Hannah make her ice cream machine-piña colada on Facebook Live.

As I moved further into adulthood, I worked more (in bakeries and bars) and bicycled less, and no longer had the time or caloric needs to spend on quarts of ice cream. But I still relied on my ice cream maker for special dinner party desserts that I could prepare in advance, or to make flavors that came to me in daydreams (or via David Leibovitz’s blog). When I moved to New York, I pared down the possessions I’d accumulated in five years of post-collegiate adult life, finally letting go of my crates of dried-up oil paints and leaving behind collectible antique furniture, but the ice cream maker traveled with me. It came along again a few years later when my boyfriend and I moved in together, merging our kitchens.

Hurricane Sandy flooded our apartment to the ceiling, knocking down shelves and swirling everything we owned in a vortex of toxic water. The ice cream maker didn’t survive.

Just two months later Hurricane Sandy flooded our new apartment to the ceiling, knocking down shelves with literal hurricane force and swirling everything we owned in a vortex of toxic muddy water: The ice cream maker didn’t survive. Many of my kitchenwares (pots, pans, metal bowls, and even knives) could be salvaged, but anything mechanical was instantly corroded. Still traumatized (not to mention impoverished) from the storm, I rebuilt my life—and stocked my new kitchen—as minimally as possible.

But it was less than a year before I missed my ice cream maker. That cute pink bucket had been discontinued, so I ordered a tasteful aqua Cuisinart and an extra canister, so I could always keep one frozen and ready for a spontaneous batch of chocolate coconut milk ice cream, melon and mint sorbet, or something brilliant Max Falkowitz tweeted about, like black sesame with a hint of orange zest.

I know the ones with a compressor are better. There’s nothing to freeze ahead of time, and they can produce a smoother ice cream, free of even a hint of ice crystals. But it would take up too much precious kitchen real estate, and my Cuisinart works just fine. And for less than $50, it’s an expense you can justify, even after (well, a while after) a hurricane. (Particularly when you need to recipe-test miso caramel ice cream for the Good Fork Cookbook.)

More cocktails to try it with:

Anyway, my ice cream maker found a new life this summer: While researching piña coladas, I found deep in the depths of the internet a recipe that called for churning the mixture in an ice cream maker. It turns out an ice cream maker is also a (boozy) slushie machine, spinning batches of cocktails as smooth as a 7-11 Slurpee, but way more sophisticated.

I’m also looking forward to trying Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s frozen Negroni, and perhaps an updated strawberry daiquiri when the late summer berries show up in the market again—not to mention batches of ice cream, like the buttermilk-fresh peach one (adapted from Jeni Britton Bauer’s buttermilk and roasted strawberry) I made last month, and the delicately perfumed lavender ice cream I’ve been contemplating, as well as the sake kasu soft serve I fell in love with in Japan last winter and hope to to replicate. My ice cream maker continues to earn its special place on my shelves and in my heart.

Hannah Kirshner is a Brooklyn-based food stylist, recipe developer, and the editor of Sweets & Bitters. Watch for her frequent appearances on the Food52 Facebook Live stream.

Do you use your ice cream machine for recipes other than ice cream? Tell us about it in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Hannah Kirshner is author of Water, Wood, and Wild Things.  She is a writer, artist, and food stylist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Vogue, Saveur, Taste, Food52, Roads & Kingdoms, and Atlas Obscura, among others. Trained at the Rhode Island School of Design, Kirshner grew up on a small farm outside Seattle and divides her time between Brooklyn and rural Japan.