The Marvelous Metal Scoop
Metal scoops can be used for many things besides scooping ice cream. Now they come in all sizes and can be found in restaurant supply stores, cooking specialty stores, and even department and discount stores. The cost is usually between $5 and $10, depending on size and store. They are dishwasher safe and they last for years. Plastic scoops are also available, but they don't seem to last as long. Here are a few uses for scoops which will save you lots of time in your kitchen:
Using a metal scoop for cookie dough is much faster than using two teaspoons or those cookie dough gadgets that are found in specialty stores. It is also the easiest way to make cookies of uniform size. I use a scoop to make drop cookies and empty the scoop right onto the cookie sheet. If the cookies are to be rolled into balls, I use the scoop, then roll; it cuts the time in half and all of the cookies are the same size. Metal scoops come in several sizes that are perfect for cookies--tiny scoops that hold a teaspoon make cute, dainty cookies, a tablespoon-sized scoop makes cookies that are 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter depending the dough and how much it spreads, and 1/4 cup and larger make huge cookies like those that are sold in bakeries.
Filling muffin cups with equal amounts of batter can sometimes be a challenge. Using a 1/4 cup sized metal scoop insures that each muffin cup has an equal amount of dough; and is usually the perfect amount for each muffin in a standard muffin recipe.
I use several sizes of small scoops to make uniform meatballs. The teaspoon-size scoop is perfect for forming cocktail-size meatballs; the tablespoon size scoop is good for everyday meatballs such as Swedish or Sweet and Sour that will be served for a meal. Since many Italian recipes instruct you to form giant meatballs, 1/4 cup scoop or even larger may be used.
To prepare: just scoop meatballs onto a broiler pan, place the pan in a 350° oven, and bake until the meatballs are cooked through. If making your meatballs ahead, they can be cooled and put in Ziploc-type bags and frozen until ready for use.
Just so you know, scooping meatballs makes them uniform, but not perfectly round like those sold pre-made in the frozen food sections of membership stores and some grocery stores. Serving meatballs that are not quite so perfect tells your guests that you care enough to cook their meal from scratch. Besides, not only do homemade meatballs taste better with none of the additives, preservatives, fake meat, and fillers, if one is accidentally dropped on the floor, it won't bounce like the store-bought versions do!