One of the tastiest developments in the Twin Cities food scene over the past decade is the proliferation of skilled ice cream makers. This growth makes sense, given that Minnesota ranks as the nation’s 10th-largest dairy producer, and we’re next door to second-ranked Wisconsin (California is No. 1). Of course, ice cream — and its cousins, gelato, sorbet and frozen custard — are year-round treats, but Minnesota’s too-brief summer is a true season to savor. Here are some favorite flavors from a dozen Twin Cities ice cream makers.
1. Ube at Crepe & Spoon
This vegan ice cream shop cleverly manipulates nut milks and coconut milk for its rich, creamy base. And why not incorporate the ube, the Filipino yam with its gorgeous purple color, into an ice cream? The flavor is mild and faintly taro-like (it’s the coconut that really comes through), but it’s the violet hue that really makes this ice cream sing. Gluten-free cones available. Scoops $4.25 to $9.25.
339 22nd Av. NE., Mpls., 763-205-0978, crepeandspoon.com
2. Mint Truffle at Sonny’s Ice Cream
On their ever-changing menu, owners Ron Siron and Carrie Gustafson have a gift for giving the luxury treatment to oldie-but-goodie ice creams, and this one is no exception. The mint is super-refreshing, and the heaping flecks of chocolate are top-shelf Valrhona. Other revelations? A decadent caramel-sea salt gelato and strawberry-basil sorbet seasoned with balsamic vinegar. Scoops $4.75 to $14.50.
3403 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-824-3868, sonnysicecream.com
3. Wild White Chocolate at Fletcher’s Ice Cream
Anyone who has become enthralled by a raspberry-white chocolate scone will fall into a similar state of rapture with this combination. The berries contribute streaks of a strikingly deep color — not to mention their sweet-tart bite — and the white chocolate adds a pronounced richness. Scoops $3.19 to $8.49.
1509 NE. Marshall St., Mpls., 612-345-4938, fletchersicecream.com
4. Cinnful at Honey & Mackie’s
The infectious oohs and aahs that burst forth from kids in line at this popular shop — where the other house specialty is French fries — turn an ice cream lover’s attention to such goodies as black licorice and pistachio. But hiding in plain sight is a seldom seen but beloved treat: cinnamon-laced ice cream, brimming with enough of the spice to lend a happy jolt to each lick. Scoops $3.75 to $5.75.
16725 County Road 24, Plymouth, 763-225-6682, honeyandmackies.com
5. Green Tea at Izzy’s Ice Cream
Owners Lara Hammel and Jeff Sommers are known for their collaborations with other local food sources, from the Birchwood Cafe to Wuollet Bakery. In this case, it’s Tea Source, which supplies its matcha green tea, a powdered (and fragrant) staple that segues beautifully into ice cream, imparting its mild flavor and deep, garden-like color. Scoops $4.05 to $9.10.
2034 Marshall Av., St. Paul, 651-603-1458 and 1100 S. 2nd St., Mpls., 612-206-3356, izzysicecream.com
6. Chocolate Brownie Sundae at LaLa Homemade Ice Cream
Along with making first-rate ice creams, owner Jennifer Lisburg and her crew are talented bakers; witness the tempting cookies, cakes and pies on the counter. For a double dose of chocolate, Lisburg incorporates crumbles of a dense, wicked-good brownie into her mellow cocoa ice cream, with winning results. Not a chocolate fan? The glorious Sweet Basil Vanilla is another must-try flavor. Scoops $3.50 to $8.
3146 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-824-5252, lalahomemadeicecream.com
7. ‘Milkjam’ at Milkjam Creamery
Vivid colors and a global array of flavors brighten the case at Sameh Wadi and Saed Wadi’s supercool scoop shop. But sometimes it’s fun to go simple, and Milkjam does not disappoint. The richness comes from blending three caramelized milks (goat, cow and sweetened condensed), and instead of incorporating the expected hint of vanilla bean, there’s a whiff of cinnamon. Scoops $3.75 to $9.50.
2743 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-424-4668, milkjamcreamery.com
8. ‘Fun Cone’ at MN Nice Cream
Sure, it’s not scooped, it’s soft-serve. But this Instagram magnet, at right, turns soft-serve into an adventure. Expect a few different flavors (vanilla and chocolate, always), in well-made lactose-free and vegan options. The playful add-ons (Glitter! Breakfast cereal! Mini doughnuts!) are pretty much one giant cavity waiting to happen, and they’re a ton of fun. Prices start at $4.
807 NE. Broadway, Mpls., 612-259-7053 and 308 Chestnut St., Stillwater, mnnicecream.com
9. Rhubarb at Pumphouse Creamery
Owner Barb Zapzalka embraces a “farm-to-frozen” mentality, starting with milk and cream from family-owned Autumnwood Farm in Forest Lake. A pinnacle of her handiwork, and a spring-and-summer bestseller, is this straightforward showcase for rhubarb, with big (and wonderfully tart) chunks folded into a luscious cream base. Don’t miss it. Scoops $4 to $5.40.
4754 Chicago Av. S., Mpls., 612-825-2021, pumphouse-creamery.com
10. Cherry sorbet at Rose Street Patisserie
Skipping the pastries requires a steely willpower, but the sacrifice pays off, particularly when it comes to owner John Kraus’ superb sorbets. Yes, the apricot version, infused with Earl Grey tea, is sublime, but for a true taste sensation, indulge in the cherry, which pops with the concentrated essence of just-picked fruit. Scoops $3.50 to $6.50.
11. Pavarotti at Sebastian Joe’s
Flavors rotate in and out of the cases at this 35-year-old institution, but seven remain constant, including this gem, which deftly blends caramel, bananas and chunks of chocolate into vanilla ice cream. It’s a refreshing, made-for-summer combination that deserves Minneapolis landmark status. Scoops $4.15 to $7.50.
1007 W. Franklin Av., Mpls., 612-870-0065 and 4321 Upton Av. S., Mpls., 612-926-7916, sebastianjoesicecream.com
12. Carrot Cake at Sweet Science Ice Cream
Owner Ashlee Olds has teamed up with the young student farmers at Urban Roots in St. Paul, channeling their sweet carrots into a memorable cream cheese-based ice cream, one that’s seasoned with the pumpkin spice-like flavors that also make carrot cake such a treat. Got a backyard rhubarb surplus? Olds will happily take it off your hands, trading stalks for pints of ice cream. Scoops $4 to $8.25.
928 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-300-9333, sweetscienceicecream.com