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.
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.
As a unit of culinary measure, a level dessertspoon (dstspn.) equals 2 teaspoons. In the United States this is roughly 0.4 of a fluid ounce. In the UK it is 10 ml.
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 1⁄4 fluid ounce. In the United States and pre-1824 England, the fluid ounce was 1⁄128 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 1⁄4 fluid ounce, but the ounce in question was 1⁄160 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.
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).
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- Silver place settings, from Butler's Guild