Yep, I have this machine too, and have had similar difficulties.
It really does help to chill your mix prior to churning it.
I've found that I have better results if I don't fill it too full - it really doesn't hold a huge amount, but then most of the home made ice-creams I make are richer and contain less air than purchased, so you don't need quite as much per serve (if that can ever be said for ice-cream
I do find it needs at least
30 mins rather than the 20 minimum programmed into the machine.
Lastly yes you can semi-freeze in the churn, transfer to freezer and freeze hard, then take out and use. I've even done this, taken it out and rewhipped using an electric mixer - which kind of defeats the point of the icecream maker but I'm sure that I had a reason, just forget what it was now. I think I'd made too much mixture.
The Aldi machine is not the best on the market but it does work, and hey you get what you pay for with these gadgets I reckon. For the few times per year I make ice-cream it's worth it for me. I wouldn't get enough use out of it to justify the cost of one of the better machines.
This post has been edited by dogged: 13/01/2013, 10:43 AM