A dessert spoon is a spoon which is designed specifically for eating dessert. In a traditional table setting, the dessert spoon appears above the plate, separated from the rest of the cutlery so that diners do not confuse it with one of the spoons used for a main course. The use of dessert spoons around the world varies greatly; in some areas, they are very common, while in other regions, the use of the dessert spoon is almost unheard of, with diners using forks or teaspoons for their desserts instead.
In terms of scale, a dessert spoon is usually similar to a soup spoon in size, although the bowl is ovoid, rather than round, with one end coming to a graceful point. The capacity of a dessert spoon is usually around two teaspoons, allowing people to fit a healthy portion of dessert into each spoonful; the large capacity is also useful when eating layered and complex desserts, as it ensures that a bit of every flavor can be gracefully fit into each bite.
Depending on region and formality, the dessert spoon may be set out at the beginning of the meal, or it may be brought out later, with the dessert. In areas where dessert spoons are not very common, many restaurants and hosts prefer to wait to bring the dessert spoons out, because otherwise guests might accidentally use them earlier in the meal. As in any situation where matched tableware is used, a dessert spoon's handle always accessorizes with the rest of the tableware.
Some people are intimidated by the size of a dessert spoon at first, because these spoons are not really designed to be fit whole into the mouth. Rather, consumers eat from the side of the spoon, making the large size less of an issue. In addition to being used to serve desserts, dessert spoons are sometimes incorrectly used as serving utensils, especially for relishes and condiments.
On occasion, you will see the term “dessert spoon” used as a unit of measurement, because the standard capacity is two teaspoons, and two dessert spoons makes up a tablespoon. Incidentally, for those who prefer their measurements in milliliters, the capacity of a dessert spoon is approximately 12 milliliters.