The Best Way to Soften Ice Cream

Put it in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

Most dense premium ice creams are too hard to scoop straight from the freezer, especially if you want pristine scoops for our Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches. Though it takes a little longer, you should let the ice cream soften in the refrigerator, not on the counter: Just as when cooking a roast in the oven, the greater the disparity between the temperature of the food and the temperature of the air around it, the more unevenly it heats up. When we left a pint of Ben & Jerry's on the counter, the top ½ inch registered about 8 degrees and was soft enough to scoop after 15 minutes, but it was still rock-hard 2 inches below the surface. By the time the middle of the pint had softened 30 minutes later, the rim was starting to liquefy. But softening a pint of ice cream in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes brought the temperature to around 8 degrees throughout, allowing us to scoop perfect balls. (Note: If you've tempered ice cream in the refrigerator, you don't need to take its temperature to know if it's sufficiently softened. If you can press gently in the middle with your finger to create a ¼-inch indentation, it's ready.)

Evenly softened throughout.

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