if you want to try something like that ice cream maker and don't have a strong electronics background, the .Net Gadgeteer is worth a look

http://www.ghielectronics.com/products/dotnet-gadgeteer

There are lots of handy modules like Relays, Touch screens etc that can make putting simple things like that together a breeze

http://www.ghielectronics.com/catalog/category/274/ 

http://www.ghielectronics.com/catalog/product/327

http://www.ghielectronics.com/catalog/product/364

http://www.ghielectronics.com/catalog/product/376

 A selection of the above parts will be living under my Christmas tree for the next month, make all the lights flash Smiley

If you have stronger electronics skills there are many, many other options out there these days.