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Image courtesy of Cuisinart

When reading the spec sheet for Cuisinart’s Fruit Scoop, it’s hard for the mind not to wander back to biblical times. After all, any machine that claims to turn humble fruit into a fully formed ice cream analog in just under 20 minutes is treading dangerously close to “water into wine” territory.

Before trying my hand at this fruity alchemy, I unpacked the box, gave the contents a once-over and deposited the bowl into the freezer for its mandatory overnight chill. The Fruit Scoop doesn’t look remarkably different from other home ice cream makers: It’s a bit bulky with a brushed stainless base, two paddles (one for fruit-based desserts and the other for dairy), plus a paddle holder and lid. What did set the Fruit Scoop apart was its instruction booklet.

There’s a reason people have cookbook collections and not a shelf full of dog-eared instruction booklets. The recipes within are usually nothing special, more suggestions or ways to get acquainted with your new product. But the recipes in the Fruit Scoop instruction booklet are far from basic, with combos like pear and Riesling sorbet, salted caramel and dairy-free coconut with chocolate chunks.

Having been forever dubious about frozen banana “whip,” I decided to give the banana chip “ice cream” a go. The subhead on the recipe reads: “So creamy and delicious — hard to believe it is not ice cream,” but as a dairy ice cream truther, I had plenty of doubts about the transformative powers of this contraption.

As per the recipe, I placed five ripe bananas and a teaspoon of vanilla extract into the frozen bowl and turned on the machine. The paddle began to turn, emitting a fingernails-on-a-chalkboard screech. After a few minutes, the sound dissipated and the bananas were churning along nicely.

This is the kind of ice cream analog that dairy-free dreams are made of. (Photo: Caroline Russock.)
This is the kind of ice cream analog that dairy-free dreams are made of. (Photo: Caroline Russock.)

While that was going on, I set up a double boiler and melted a few ounces of bittersweet chocolate to be spooned into the ice cream during the last few minutes of freezing. Checking back on the bananas periodically, the mixture looked lumpy, a texture that didn’t exactly inspire confidence. With two minutes left on the timer, I slowly poured in the chocolate. Instead of mixing with the bananas, the chocolate froze on contact, dotting the ice cream with those lacy little chips that you find in the best versions of stracciatella gelato.

Under a half hour on the clock and it was time to see if the Fruit Scoop was in fact the ice cream alchemist that it claimed to be.

A spoonful of the creamy dessert immediately brought to mind Bluth’s Original Frozen Banana Stand of Arrested Development fame. But unlike the tooth-numbing act of gnawing on a chocolate-dipped frozen banana, this dairy-free ice cream had a light, almost custard-like texture broken up with crunchy little striations of chilled chocolate. This is the kind of ice cream that dairy-free dreams are made of.

Packing the banana ice cream into a freezer container, I took a look at the paddle and one of the Fruit Scoop’s secrets was revealed. All of the stringy, fibrous matter had attached itself to the paddle, taking out any unpleasant texture and making for a uniformly creamy result. With all of my ice cream doubts banished, I looked over at the pineapple ripening on the counter and was reminded of Dole Whip, that Disney theme park treat. Game on, Fruit Scoop.

The Cuisinart Fruit Scoop is available from numerous retailers, including Amazon, Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma. Suggested retail price is $99.95.