Favorite Tool #19 – Scoops

Stacks of cake pans

There are things in my basement no normal cook has. Graduated sets of round, oval, square, and hexagonal cake tins; four hundred and seventy-three cookie cutters; a brain-shaped Jell-O mold; and fourteen trigger release ice cream scoops in various sizes to name but a few. Tools of the trade from my food styling days, when one job might require a six-inch cake tin for a dense flourless chocolate torte, while another job would call for an eight-inch pan to bake a classic buttery Scottish shortbread in, and a month later I’d have to haul out a fourteen-inch cake pan to use for a party-size spanakopita featured in a brunch spread. For the most part these uniquely sized tools and cookware sit forlornly on the shelves waiting to be used again, gathering dust or serving as spots for spiders to weave their webs. Too special to donate to the church tag sale, yet not ordinary enough to live in the kitchen and be used for everyday cooking, these tools tell the story of a well-prepared food stylist. Ready for any recipe a food editor or art director might present me with. Occasionally I will go down into the basement and grab one of these oddball kitchen tools because it is just what I need to get the job done.

If you’re a reader of this blog you know in general I am not a fan of kitchen tools which are only able to perform one task. However sometimes it is all about having the right size gadget or pan. Just as you would not want to warm milk for a cup of hot chocolate in a pasta pot nor would you want to try and cook a pound of pasta in a two-cup saucepan. So yes, there are some sets of kitchen items I keep around because they are the right size. My ice cream scoops are one such set.

Molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream for Disney magazine

I originally invested in a multiple sized set because you never knew exactly what size scoop of ice cream (real or fake) would be required at any given photo shoot. The scoop size was determined by the dish, bowl or cone the ice cream was to go on or in. An art director wouldn’t be able to tell you in advance what size scoop was needed, but it wasn’t the sort of tool you could send someone out to buy if you didn’t bring the appropriate size with you. Better to have everything from key lime to softball size in your bag of tricks.

Ice cream scoops

Having a bevy (a gaggle? a whole heck of a lot?) of scoops proved useful for assembling the ice cream cookies we served at my sister and brother-in-law’s wedding since all their kids, as well as the nephews and nieces wanted to get in on the scooping and squishing action. So in addition to food styling jobs having multiples is also good for assembly line dessert production too.

Ice cream scoops for measuring cookie dough

The other thing ice cream scoops are good for are perfectly portioned cookies. One of those tricks you pick up working for a caterer or in a commercial kitchen is scooping rather than spooning the dough. Today I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and it was incredibly fast to scoop, scrape, then release the dough onto a cookie sheet, before popping the trays into the oven to bake.

While I think it would be pretty silly for most people to have as many ice cream scoops as I have, having one or two isn’t a bad idea. Not a bad idea at all.

Chocolate chip cookies


Molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream Disney Magazine
All others Cynthia Allen

1 Comment

Filed under Favorite Tools

One response to “Favorite Tool #19 – Scoops

  1. Heather Caldwell

    I love this idea! So hard to spoon cookie dough – and it always gets all over my hands. I’m gonna invest in a small scoop! xoxo

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