Scoopable Ice Cream?
February 9, 2014 5:12 PM   Subscribe

I like ice cream cones, however, I've never found ice cream from the supermarket to be scoopable in the same way that Baskin Robbins is. The only way I can think to describe it is that they don't stick together in the same way - Breyers and Dreyers both tend to crack apart and resist mushing into cone shape. Basking Robbins is both expensive and, in my area, prone to being out of Mint Chocolate Chip at all times. Is there another brand that I could try that better recreates the Baskin Robbins scoopability and is relatively good tasting?
posted by macfly to Food & Drink (23 answers total)
Could this be a temperature issue? I would guess the freezers at a scoop shop are kept slightly warmer than your freezer at home for precisely this reason: easier scooping and creamier texture. I know people who insist on microwaving the ice cream carton for a short time before consuming at home, or you could leave it out on the counter for a few minutes.
posted by dahliachewswell at 5:22 PM on February 9, 2014 [7 favorites]

I think the issue is the scoop. I dip mine at home in warm water just as they do at BR. I get nice round balls of ice cream using both of the brands you mentioned. Chocolate of course.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:26 PM on February 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I usually run the scoop under hot water and then its much easier to get nice scoops.
Also gelato scoops are awesome.
posted by KogeLiz at 5:27 PM on February 9, 2014

Yes, try leaving the ice cream on the counter or in the refrigerator for a while (don't forget about it! Always set a timer :).

Also, a good scroop will help with this.
posted by amtho at 5:30 PM on February 9, 2014

FYI, Breyers isn't even technically ice cream anymore, it's frozen dairy dessert. I've found that more premium brands (B&J, HD, etc) still use full-fat cream and eggs and are scoopable right out of the freezer.
posted by Oktober at 5:32 PM on February 9, 2014 [6 favorites]

If Turkey Hill ice cream is available in your area try that one. I can't attest their mint chip but the other flavors I've tried have been very scoopable and tasty.
posted by Requiax at 5:33 PM on February 9, 2014

My sister and brother both worked at Baskin Robbins. You need to dip your scoop in hot water first. Also, the temperature of your ice cream may be a factor. Take it out and let it sit for five minutes. Then scoop. It's cracking because it's too cold. Those bins of ice cream at Baskin Robbins are not quite as cold as your freezer. Ice cream tastes good because it is frozen but too frozen and meh. It's ice CREAM.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:33 PM on February 9, 2014

It's definitely a combination of hot scoop and softer/warmer ice cream.

I know this sounds crazy, but take your carton of ice cream and pop it in the microwave. Microwave at half power for 30 seconds. Scoop easily into bowl or ice cream cone. It won't melt or feel hot, it just softens the ice cream just enough to work with it. I prefer the microwave to just leaving it on the counter.
posted by royalsong at 5:39 PM on February 9, 2014

Why not buy a pint or two at Baskin Robins, stick it your home freezer for a couple days, and see how it goes with your regular scoop? You know, for science.
posted by colin_l at 5:42 PM on February 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

More science; Baskin-Robbins uses heavy (whipping) cream in their product, which by USDA definition is 36% or more butterfat. Breyer's Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (from their site) contains cream, which could be anywhere from 18-30% butterfat.

The telling thing is that equal scoops contain 6 grams of saturated fat in Breyer's, but 8 grams of saturated fat in Baskin-Robbins. That would probably noticeably affect scoopability.

It will also affect you. Go with the warm scoop and the softened Breyer's.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 5:44 PM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Apparently storing your carton of ice cream in a large zip lock bag will keep it scoopable. I never buy ice cream so I've never tried it and I'm really unsure of how it works scientifically... But it would be an easy experiement.
posted by missriss89 at 5:54 PM on February 9, 2014

I can vouch for awesome tastiness and scoopablity of Turkey Hill's chocolate chip mint ice cream (both the white and green varieties). They also make a mint ice cream with Junior Mints. I'm going to try that the next time I'm in Turkey Hill territory.
posted by 26.2 at 6:00 PM on February 9, 2014

Royalsong you aren't crazy. I also microwave ice cream, 15 sec.
Who can wait longer for the ice cream to reach scoopable temperature?
posted by ibakecake at 6:02 PM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am using both a hot water warmed scoop (rinsing it between scoops) and pints from BR so those are not variables. But it sounds like the difference in butterfat content may be a factor.
posted by macfly at 6:26 PM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Get yourself a Zeroll disher. I do a lot of homemade ice cream, and was looking into starting a business with my wife a while back. I tried out a lot of dishers (aka ice cream scoops), and this one smoothly served consistent, easy scoops.

It's always a good idea to let the ice cream thaw a bit before scooping, too.
posted by duffell at 6:36 PM on February 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

FYI, Breyers isn't even technically ice cream anymore, it's frozen dairy dessert. I've found that more premium brands (B&J, HD, etc) still use full-fat cream and eggs and are scoopable right out of the freezer.
posted by Oktober at 5:32 PM on February 9

Breyer's isn't great quality, but a decent amount of their line is most definitely ice cream.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 6:53 PM on February 9, 2014

Do you have a Rite Aid near you? They still sell Thrifty ice creams which are my second favorite after BR.
posted by ApathyGirl at 7:00 PM on February 9, 2014

Don't go for more expensive ice cream. Look for cheaper ice cream, like a store brand. The cheaper the ice cream, the more air it has in it (as opposed to actual ingredients.) The more air, the easier to scoop. (If you want premium ice cream, you need to let it warm up some out of the freezer. But the cheap stuff is good to go right away.)
posted by Daily Alice at 7:24 PM on February 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

This has always just glided through the ice cream for me: Zeroll original ice cream scoop. I don't actually know how much of its effectiveness is due to the sheer thermal mass and how much of it is due to the heat conducting oil inside, but it really does seem to soften the ice cream as it goes.
posted by d. z. wang at 7:42 PM on February 9, 2014

Yes, this is almost certainly an issue of butterfat content - the more butterfat, the less likely the ice cream will lose shape on the cone. Daily Alice got it reversed - the cheaper ice creams mixed with more air may technically be easier to be get out of the carton, but will be nearly impossible to shape into a perfect scoop and keep on a thin sugar cone in one piece.

Baskin Robbins is "super premium" ice cream - usually over 14% butterfat. At the grocery store, it will be Haagen Dazs, Ben & Jerry's and a few smaller premium brands (such as Graeter's, whose mint chocolate chip is unparalleled) that have similar butterfat levels. That said, all super premium ice cream is expensive because of the large amount of heavy cream used to make it (versus higher levels of cheaper milk and sugar whipped with air).

But there's a less expensive option that might well blow your mind: make the ice cream yourself. Invest $50 in a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker, and it's then just a matter of mixing together milk, cream, sugar... and whatever else you feel like. You can play with the proportion of milk and cream to get just the right consistency and flavor for you. $10 of raw ingredients will usually get you around 6 or 7 pints of fresh, natural, super premium ice cream.

Beware, however, as while these experiments with homemade ice cream will likely result in weeks of dessert bliss, the after-effects of having all that rich, cheap, creamy bliss in your freezer may soon become readily apparent on the bathroom scale.
posted by eschatfische at 9:39 PM on February 9, 2014

B&R is, typically, an ice cream with a higher milkfat content than most supermarket ice creams. This also makes the ice cream more malleable and less prone to the falling apart that you get with, say, Breyers. The supermarket ice creams also tend to have more air churned into them, adding to the breaking apart you get.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:45 AM on February 10, 2014

Have you ever considered getting an ice cream maker? You will get _very fresh_, wonderful ice cream this way. Scoopability guaranteed.
posted by amtho at 12:34 PM on February 10, 2014

Turkey Hill for the win. I also got a package of Breyer's and I'll try out the letting it warm up a bit strategy with that. Thanks for all the suggestions!
posted by macfly at 10:00 AM on February 11, 2014

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