Icely does it
When asked to make their own ice cream, our kids rub their hands in anticipation and set out determined to create the best chocolate ice cream in the whole world. But taking the ‘Just Like Home’ ice cream maker out of its packaging, we grown-ups are a lot more sceptical. ‘Can this thing really make ice cream? Nah! Not possible,’ we mutter to each other.
The kids have no such qualms and launch into the process with gusto, meticulously gathering the recommended amount of milk, whipping cream, sugar and their preferred flavour – in this case, chocolate syrup. Meanwhile, my friend and I set about assembling the various parts of the ice cream maker. Like all contraptions it’s easy – in hindsight. We battle away the first time, but once we’d fathomed it out, it was a piece of cake (pardon us for mixing our desserts).
The machine works by adding ice, a hefty glug of salt (150g) and some hot (yes, hot) water to a drum, to which you then add the loose ingredients and rotate by hand to create ice cream. Now, we’re not claiming to be boffins, but we’re curious – if not a little doubtful – as to whether this is going to work. After five minutes of rotating (you need to have strong arms and be prepared to take turns) there’s still no sign of any ice cream and the little ones are losing interest.
But with a bit of adult elbow grease, a lot of patience (around 20 minutes’ worth) and, according to the kids, some spooky magical intervention, creamy, chocolatey and, even if we say so ourselves, darn delicious ice cream begins to ooze out, much to everyone’s joy and relief.
Kid’s verdict: ‘It’s the best ice cream I’ve ever had and we’ve made it at least three or four times since and each time, it just tastes better. My friends in the apartment next door came over and Mum allowed us to make ice cream together. It’s a bit boring to keep turning the thing but Mum helps with that bit and we all got to eat the ice cream. My friend is now asking her mum to buy one for her too. It’s the best thing I’ve made so far and I think this product deserves five gold stars.’
Let them eat cake!
When we realise that baking the cupcakes involves little more than mixing a sachet of powder with water, spooning the batter into a cup and bunging it in the microwave for 30 seconds, we think: Now this is our kind of cooking. It’s enough to work the kids into a frenzy of excitement, although they’re desperate to get their hands on the actual machinery. More of a froster than a cupcake maker, the Girl Gourmet machine comes into its own once the cakes are cool. The children mix frosting powder with water, whipping it into a thick paste before spooning it into the frosting slot.
They slot the cake underneath, and pull down the lever, twirling the cake to get a nice artistic swirl. It’s very impressive, and the kids are thrilled, but it seems like an awful lot of equipment for one little swirl. We also make the mistake of comparing the height of our meagre twirl to the spectacular spiral on the box and, perhaps unsurprisingly, find ourselves sorely lacking. But not to worry, the kids top off the cupcakes with a few multi-coloured sprinkles and there are gasps of delight at having created a cupcake concoction that wouldn’t look out of place in any of Dubai’s fancy bakeries.
The kids enjoy it, but as a parent, this one falls short. For one, no one takes more than the tiniest nibble from their cupcake, and our first two attempts yield squishy specimens that look wonky despite some skilful frosting. Secondly, it’s a cumbersome piece of kit and, finally – and herein lies the catch – you have to go back to the store to buy more sachets of cupcake and frosting mix once you’ve used up the four provided.
Yes, you get a packet of sprinkles and other bits and bobs such as spoons and spatulas, but once you’re done, you’re expected to trot back to the Toy Store and fork out Dhs39-Dhs69 for another pack. For half that price, we could stir ourselves into making much tastier muffins at home. In fact, that’s not a bad idea, and there’s no reason why we couldn’t use the ‘froster’ to decorate with our homemade creamy toppings.
Kid’s verdict: ‘I loved using the cupcake maker to put the frosting onto the cake but it came down all so quick. I’m sure with practice, I can get it right. The bit I loved the best, though, was shaking the sprinkles onto the cupcakes. The cakes looked beautiful – just like at the pastry shop, but they weren’t tasty at all.’