Hands-on review: TooA Milano gelato maker
Image credit: TooA
App control and ready-made ingredients provide small but perfectly formed – and delicious – portions of high-quality ice cream.
You can get a handle on some products just from looking at a photo. Others, not so much. This Italian kitchen appliance looks like a retro food mixer – and comes in some beautiful colours, including a Barbiecore pink that’s very summer 2023 – but first impressions are wrong. It has just one purpose: making small, fancy ice creams.
It’s designed to make a single serving of gelato super-fast, from ready-made mix, which you buy in single portions. These 80ml TooABriks of gelato mix cost £3.50 for a pack of two, at the time of writing. They’re long life, in a Tetra Pak, and small: smaller than a juice box.
It only takes five minutes to make a gelato, with app control. But you can only make one portion at a time, evoking the ‘single-serving friend’ in 'Fight Club'. It’s OK for one person or a couple, but forget serving up gelato at dinner parties.
We put the new-to-the-UK TooA Milano to the test, with a selection of TooABriks. Setup is simple. The machine arrives ready to use and a QR code in its short instruction booklet took us straight to the TooA app.
App setup was mildly comedic: it started out in Italian (and why shouldn’t it?) but changing language was a challenge, as it meant the guesswork of finding ‘Regno Unito’ in a menu.
You hear the machine churn (it cools and stirs) and on screen you get a satisfying ‘Ice cream in preparation’ preview: a picture of your chosen gelato, spinning. You feel reassured that the TooA is working.
True to its promise, it makes a small gelato in five minutes. In the app, you choose from three textures. Even on a hot summer’s day, the middle setting was firm enough. But when it’s done, you can choose to keep cooling and mixing for a few more minutes if you want it thicker.
Serving, the mixing cup pops out of the machine easily and, when you pull out the two-pronged stirrer, the ice cream usually lifts with it. We liked the design: the prongs are narrow enough that a teaspoon is all it takes to nudge the gelato off and into a bowl. It’s easy and you don’t have to scrape it a lot. The machine is ready to use again straight away.
We tested a good range of flavours: Cappuccino, Crema (cream), Fondente (chocolate), Fragola (strawberry), Mango and Pistachio. Ingredients are natural, simple, often Italian. Flavours are authentic too: superior to supermarket ice cream. You can taste real strawberry, mango and more. They’re classy and not overly sweet. If you were served one in a restaurant or at a gelateria, you wouldn’t be disappointed... but you would want more. The portion is a single scoop at best. Then you have to wait five minutes for another.
So it failed the hungry teenager test and wouldn’t work for a dinner party... but the gelatos were universally agreed to be delicious. It would work for one person or a couple, if they want quality, not quantity.
The only annoyance with the app (after the initial language barrier) was the lack of notifications. There’s no phone alert to tell you pudding’s ready; you need to either keep an eye on the app or listen for the machine’s beep.
We tried cheating too. Could we make our own ice cream mix and use the TooA to freeze an 80ml batch? Sadly the app knew which QR codes had been used already and refused to work without a fresh one. Functionally then, the machine only works with TooABriks.
We did enjoy the results. But it’s incredibly hard to justify the space the TooA takes up, let alone its cost. In today’s kitchen, a growing list of electricals compete for worktop and cupboard space.
Many people live singly but most won’t have enough kitchen space, or budget, to justify the TooA Milano. It’s high-end, stocked for example in Harrods, but too niche for a millionaire’s mansion. A millionaire’s bachelor(ette) pad maybe?
From £369 tooa.com
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Ice cream makers don’t have to be pricey. This is a freeze-first model, so you put the bowl in the freezer overnight before use. It takes 20-40 minutes to make up to 2 litres (you start with less, but the mixture expands). It only makes one batch, then you need to freeze the bowl again.
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If you have a food mixer from a big brand like KitchenAid or Smeg, you can get a freeze-first bowl and paddle to work with your existing appliance. This one makes ice cream (up to 1.9 litres) in under half an hour. After which, the bowl needs freezing overnight again.
Sage the Smart Scoop
This is pricier and bulkier than the other alternatives because, like the TooA, it has a built-in compressor and can freeze ice cream mix all day long. But it makes up to a litre of ice cream, sorbet or frozen yoghurt. Unusually, the Sage also has a keep-cool setting. It also makes a pleasing ice cream van sound when it finishes.
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