The Trick To Evenly Softening Ice Cream

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It's pretty hard to think of a dessert more widely beloved than ice cream, the creamy, dreamy treat that's just as delicious by the scoop as it is when served as part of a more elaborate hot fudge sundae or cake. Whether your favorite flavor is simple vanilla, a loaded cookie dough, or a downright hectic New York Super Fudge Chunk (via Ben & Jerry's), ice cream just seems to hit the spot at pretty much any time of day.

For the most part, this treat is an instant gratification type of food, but there are some aspects of it that require patience. If you're making your very own at home, for example, you'll usually need to let the homemade base chill in the fridge overnight before churning it in your ice cream maker, according to Kitchn. And even if you're just digging into a store-bought pint, there are those minutes of exquisite anticipation when you're waiting for the ice cream to soften enough to be scoopable.

Don't turn to your microwave just yet

Any ice cream lover among us can recognize the feeling of impatience that results from removing a carton from the freezer and wanting to dig in immediately, only to have our dessert spoon basically bounce right off of rock-hard ice cream. Unfortunately, the problem only gets worse the more you splurge on ice cream, according to Allrecipes: While cheaper brands are usually full of air and have a low butterfat content, which keeps them pretty soft even in the freezer, high-quality ice creams boast a dense texture and a high amount of butterfat that cause them to freeze very hard at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature that's recommended for freezers (via FDA).

In these instances, many of us are, no doubt, tempted to pop our delicious ice cream into the microwave for just a few seconds. But anyone who has done so has definitely noticed that while nuking it can indeed soften parts of it to be scoopable, the process will also blast at least part of the ice cream too much, leaving a runny pool of melt in the carton, too. So, what's a better alternative?

Try refrigerating the ice cream instead

If you can withstand just a little bit of wait time, Taste of Home suggests that a better way to soften ice cream is to transfer the carton to the fridge for 20 minutes, where it will soften more evenly than in the microwave or left sitting on the counter.

However, if you're truly impatient when it comes to eating ice cream, it's probably a good idea to invest in an excellent ice cream scoop, the best of which are capable of scooping very firm ice cream. Serious Eats recommends the Zeroll, an aluminum scoop filled with food-safe mineral oil that, after being held for about a minute, takes on the body's heat and becomes just warm enough to plow through frozen ice cream. It could be a good investment for those hot summer days when a few minutes' wait for ice cream is a few minutes too many.