Dessert spoon

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Dessert spoon
A dessert spoon and fork designed by Gio Ponti; photo by Paolo Monti, 1963

A dessert spoon is a spoon designed specifically for eating dessert and sometimes used for soup or cereals. Similar in size to a soup spoon (intermediate between a teaspoon and a tablespoon) but with an oval rather than round bowl, it typically has a capacity around twice that of a teaspoon.

The use of dessert spoons around the world varies greatly; in some areas, they are very common while in other places the use of the dessert spoon is almost unheard of—with diners using forks or teaspoons for their desserts instead.[1]

In most traditional table settings, the dessert spoon is placed above the plate or bowl, separated from the rest of the cutlery, or it may be brought in with the dessert.[2]

As a unit of culinary measure, a level dessertspoon (dstspn.) equals two teaspoons, or 10 milliliters, whereas a tablespoon is three teaspoons (15 ml or half a fluid ounce) in the United States, and two dessertspoons, i.e. four teaspoons (20 ml or two-thirds of a fluid ounce) in Britain and Australia, which is the old British standard. For dry ingredients, a rounded or heaped teaspoonful is often specified instead.

As a unit of Apothecary measure, the dessert-spoon was an unofficial but widely used unit of fluid measure equal to two fluid drams, or ​14 fluid ounce.[3] In the United States and pre-1824 England, the fluid ounce was ​1128 of a Queen Anne wine gallon (which was defined as exactly 231 cubic inches) thus making the dessert-spoon approximately 7.39 ml. The post-1824 (British) imperial Apothecaries' dessert-spoon was also ​14 fluid ounce, but the ounce in question was ​1160 of an imperial gallon, which was originally defined as 277.274 cubic inches, but later adjusted to approximately 277.419433 cubic inches, in either case yielding a dessert-spoon of approximately 7.10 ml.[4]

In both the British and American variants of the Apothecaries' system, two tea-spoons make a dessert-spoon, while two dessert-spoons make a table-spoon. In pharmaceutical Latin, the Apothecaries' dessert-spoon is known as cochleare medium, abbreviated as cochl. med. or less frequently coch. med., as opposed to the tea-spoon (cochleare minus or minimum) and table-spoon (cochelare magis or magnum).[5]


  1. ^ Martin, Judith (March 13, 2005). "On the Offensive". The Washington Post.
  2. ^ "The Secret of the Formal Place Setting". Diner's Digest. CyberPalate LLC. 1997. Archived from the original on 1998-01-25.
  3. ^ Sir Robert Christison (1842). A dispensatory, or commentary on the pharmacopoeias of Great Britain: comprising the natural history, description, chemistry, pharmacy, actions, uses, and doses of the articles of the materia medica. Black. p. 38. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  4. ^ Robert Borneman Ludy (1907). Answers to questions prescribed by pharmaceutical state boards. J.J. McVey. p. 125. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  5. ^ Robert Gray Mayne (1881). A medical vocabulary; or, An explanation of all names, synonymes, terms, and phrases used in medicine. p. 91. Retrieved 20 December 2011.

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