Years ago at my first pastry chef restaurant job I was introduced to the glorious use of scoops. I was self taught and had been using the typical tools and gadgets one would have at home. Being in a professional kitchen for the first time was a revelation and there were rules and regulations for everything. At times I found it stifling, but I also learned a lot. The right tool for the job saves time, hones technique, and can even help with portion control, all of which save money and often make your creations look the best they can be.
Scoops became part of my daily routine. They helped me get dozens of perfectly formed and sized muffins made in no time flat. Cookies were now all the exact same size. Same for truffles – all exactly 1-inch across thanks to the right sized tool.
Here are the scoops we regularly use with suggestions for their best application. What works with one doesn’t necessarily for another.
Ice Cream Scoop/Food Disher
(top in image)– this is the classic scoop and the one you probably have in your drawer. Some are spring loaded while some have a gear mechanism but they both work the same way. You press a lever that rotates a thin blade that hugs the concave bowl of the scoop, thereby pushing out and releasing whatever is in the scoop. If you over-fill the bowl, then level it off to the brim with cookie dough, sorbet or truffle ganache – whatever you are scooping – then each and every scoop will be the exact same size every time. Great for portion and yield control! And this is how bakeries made sure their cookies are all the same size. They look more professional and they bake more evenly.
Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop
(center in image and below in action)– you look at this scoop and you think, how good can it be? The bowl isn’t completely round and there is no release mechanism, but then you use it and experience the most effortless ice cream scooping. The image does not do this tool justice – you have to try one. The aluminum scoop is designed to create large looking scoops by preventing compression of the frozen dessert. The handle is filled with an FDA approved oil-based heat conductive fluid. Zeroll will not disclose exactly what it is. Your hand heats the liquid; that heat transfers to the handle, which in turn travels down to the scoop. These features make the scoop unique and facilitate easy release of the ice cream.
Indeed, with a regular scooping motion, the shape of this scoop forms a wave of ice cream that crests over itself and begins to form a “ball” shape. Except that this ball is like a spiral of ice cream. The company says that it gives the ice cream vendor 20% more ice cream scoops per gallon. What it means to you at home is easy scooping and nice looking scoops of ice cream, gelato or sorbet.
Paddle or Spade
(bottom of image) – these are a scoop of sort and are included here because ice cream is a common denominator. If you have ever gone into an ice cream shop that specializes in custom mix-ins, they are probably using something like this tool. They dig into half gallons of extra hard ice cream easily and then use this same gadget to mash in a custom combo of Heath Bar pieces and crushed Oreos or whatever you desire. Do what the pros do: chill a slab of marble or even a baking sheet pan. Scoop out an amount of ice cream onto the pre-chilled surface, sprinkle on your mix-ins, then use the spade to slap them together to create your own custom flavors of ice cream with candy/cookies mixed in.
Images: Peter Muka