Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Straight Scoop

As a little girl, I eagerly anticipated the occasional after-school stops we would make to the local Baskin-Robbins. I would put in my usual order: a scoop of Daquiri Ice (or Rainbow Sherbert) on a sugar cone, and then stand transfixed by the boy behind the counter — not because he was so cute, but because he managed to form a beautifully round scoop of ice cream each and every time.

I wanted my scoops at home to be that perfect, too, so I watched very carefully. I noticed that he dipped the scoop in water in between scoops. Aha, I thought. All I needed to do was to dip the scoop in water before starting to scoop!

At home, I tried this “dip and scoop” approach with both regular tablespoons and actual ice cream scoops. When that didn’t work so well, I even tried again with hot water — without luck. I was not going to give up on this quest: I just had to find out the secret to effortlessly creating a consistently perfect scoop of ice cream.

The shape of the scoop seemed like it might be the ticket. I had tried a few scoops that looked very similar to the one at Baskin-Robbins, with varying results. After going through a few duds, I finally came across one that works. Since it was a hand-me-down from my aunt, I have no idea who makes it. It forms very nice, ball-shaped ice cream, but the skinnier handle isn’t all that comfortable to hold. I usually prefer purity of materials in products for cleaner aesthetics, and this is no exception. With its wood handle and skinny neck, this ice cream scoop just isn’t very pretty – and that makes it less enjoyable both to own and to use.

There was one scoop that I’d had my eye on for years. It comes in different sizes, with a color-coded end cap. I wanted one with a white, black or red cap but had not seen them anywhere… until I saw one with a white end cap at Crate and Barrel. I bought it. (Zeroll makes this white-capped version specially for C&B; the only clue is a discreet, clear Zeroll sticker on the back side of the handle.)

I don’t know why I waited so long. I enjoy using the scoop more than I enjoy eating ice cream. In fact, I’m sometimes tempted to buy ice cream just so I can use my Zeroll to form sphere after perfect sphere!

Not only does the Zeroll look cool, with its retro form (originally designed in 1935) and dull metal finish, its wide handle is ergonomic and feels great in the hand. The embossed Crate and Barrel logo doubles as a finger grip to prevent slippage. The shape of the scoop lets you roll ball after ball of perfectly spherical ice cream, but the secret is the heat-conducting liquid in the handle — and that’s what helps the ice cream release cleanly from the scoop. Made of durable cast aluminum and ABS plastic, I expect to be scooping thousands more perfect scoops of ice cream with this superbly designed kitchen tool in years to come.

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