An ice cream scoop is a kitchen utensil which is used to serve ice cream, although it can also be used to handle other thick substances such as cookie dough. The thick construction of the scoop allows it to hold up when it is used with heavy, stiff materials, and it will not bend or break like ordinary scoops and spoons. Many kitchen supply stores sell these utensils, often in a variety of sizes and styles. While not a vitally necessary kitchen tool unless you eat a lot of ice cream, an ice cream scoop can certainly be useful to have around.
A very basic scoop looks like an oversized, reinforced spoon with a deep bowl, rather than a shallow one. The deep bowl of the scoop penetrates into the ice cream to pull out a rounded section, while the strong construction keeps the scoop from bending. Some ice cream scoops also have a trigger handle, which uses a small piece of metal to force the ice cream out of the scoop and into the serving bowl. Since it can be challenging to dislodge very frozen ice cream from the scoop, this feature is handy.
Metal is the typical construction material for ice cream scoops, since it is extremely strong. Many scoops are hollowed so that they will not be extremely heavy, and they may have rubberized handles for easy gripping. The rubber also creates a buffer between the cold ice cream and your hand; as anyone who has scooped a lot of ice cream knows, a cold ice cream spoon can get very uncomfortable.
Most manufacturers also make a range of sizes, from kiddie scoops to jumbo sizes. This can be useful when one is trying to moderate ice cream consumption, as a small scoop can be used to precisely measure out a portion of ice cream. Mini-scoops can also be used to measure out a small neat serving of ice cream to top a brownie or cake, or to create balls of melon and other foods for buffet tables. Generally, the packaging for an ice cream scoop will indicate the volume that the scoop holds.
When serving ice cream, a scoop can help to keep things neat and tidy, which is especially important in a professional environment. The scoop also keeps the hand of the server free of the ice cream, which is an important public health precaution. Professional grade scoops, such as those designed for ice cream parlors, also tend to be very solid and strong; if you want an ice cream scoop which will last, purchase one from a restaurant supply store.
If you're serious about serving ice cream, you may also want to acquire serving bowls and appropriate ice cream spoons from a kitchen supply store. Most serving bowls are made from glass, which insulates the ice cream so it will stay cool. Ice cream spoons have elongated handles so that the diner's hand is kept clear of the food, and they can add a more formal note to home ice cream service.