It was the big rage in kitchen gadgetry last summer. This non-electric, small ice cream maker has captured 30% of the total number of ice cream makers sold since then. Today the popular Donvier continues to enjoy its sweet success.
The manufacturers, Nikkal Industries in Virginia Beach, Va., don't seem to sit back and relax, though. Taking advantage of the new baby boom and catering to yuppies' children, who are given precious importance these days, they've just let loose Penguin, Snoopy and Woodstock for the youngsters to enjoy.
Penguin is a 14-ounce blue and white ice cream maker designed to look like a cartoon penguin with a yellow nose, red bow and yellow trim. Charles Schulz's famed Snoopy and Woodstock star in another almost-pint-size ice cream maker that comes in pink or blue with polka dots.
Designed for children ages 6 and up, the new compact ice cream makers work just like the original Donvier. They're uncomplicated, much like a play toy. They use no electricity, no salt, no ice and require but a few turns of the handle in 20 minutes or less to make homemade ice cream. The simple trick comes from Chillfast, a non-toxic refrigerant that is permanently sealed in the walls of the removable aluminum inner tub. When kept in the freezer overnight, the tub becomes cold enough to freeze any liquids that come in contact with it.
One should start with an ice cream mixture that is very cold, recommends ice cream enthusiast Nancy Arum, who prepared ice cream in the Donvier for us recently. Author of "Ice Cream & Ices, an Irena Chalmers Cookbook" (Harper & Row: $8.95), Arum, who once owned a 1901 ice cream parlor on Long Island, has come up with a number of frozen treats for the Donvier.
Almost any type of homemade ice cream and sherbets, sorbets, granitas, ice milks and frozen yogurts . . . even cold soups, slushes and cocktail drinks such as margaritas, can be concocted in the ice cream maker, she says.
"I am a purist," she says. "I like to have total control over what goes into the ice cream or any frozen dessert." She adds that anyone can make ice cream at home that is just as good as quality commercial ice cream, starting with cream, sugar, vanilla or other natural flavors.
For youngsters, one of the easiest things to whip up is a slush. Any fruit juice can be thrown into the frozen canister, and after a few stirs of the paddle, presto--you have a delicious icy cold slush. Frozen yogurts are a cinch too. Plain yogurt and any choice of seasonal fruit may be combined and frozen in no time.
It can be fun for all at a children's party when the young guests participate in making their own ice cream or get to choose from a variety of toppings. The Donvier can hold prepared ice cream for up to three hours so you can let it sit out on the table or counter without melting for some time.
For more ideas for the young, Penguin and Snoopy come with a recipe/instruction booklet written and illustrated for children ages 6 and up.
When the Donvier ice cream maker first came out, its simplicity in handling may have confused some users who neglected to read directions. One of the frequent causes of failure, particularly in cream mixtures, was when the handle was turned continuously. This did not give the mixture enough time to freeze and harden on the sides. Some mixtures were too soft, caused by too much sugar or too much liqueur or alcohol. Also, failure to completely freeze the aluminum cylinder resulted in a poor product. Other tips on what could have gone wrong are given in the booklet that comes with the product.
Although the larger quart-size Donvier seems to lead in sales, I enjoy making ice cream in the small new units. Arum says that it works much faster than the larger cylinders.
According to Arum, extra pint- and quart-size cylinders are now available. These can be used to store the ice cream, or larger recipe batches can be prepared and poured into two chilled tubs.
Arum also announced the forthcoming arrival (around September) of Premier Donviers in the colors of black, red, yellow and white. By virtue of their double-walled exteriors, these easy ice cream makers can double as an ice bucket or wine chiller. A half-pint Donvier in white and yellow motif with ice-cream design will likewise arrive to please those who want to make small quantities of any frozen or cold treat. Also expect to find on the store shelves some colorful plastic accessories such as parfait glasses, ice cream bowls, scoops and spoons.
For more information about the products, call the Donvier toll-free consumer hot line: (800) 334-4559.
The 14-ounce Snoopy and Penguin Ice Cream Makers from Nikkal Industries have a suggested retail price of $35 and $30, respectively. Extra cylinders are available for regular Donviers, $20 for pint and $30 for quart. The products are available at J. C. Penney, Robinson's, Broadway and May Co. The Donvier half-pint, to be available in September, will retail for $12.50; the Premier will be $40 for the pint and $50 for the quart.