POLL: Which ice-cream treat would you most like to eat?

When I was growing up, it was an extra-special treat when Mom would fill the summer freezer with a stash of Dairy Queen ice cream sandwiches and Dilly Bars. This summer I plan to continue her tradition, with an upgrade: Izzy Pops ($1.91), from Izzy’s Ice Cream Cafe. Kudos to the brainstorm that created this addicting little grab-and-go goody, a golf-ball-sized scoop of Izzy’s smooth, flavor-packed ice cream (salted caramel, mint chocolate chip, Oreo and others) that’s speared on a stick and dipped in the shop’s chocolate sauce, which becomes frozen into a brittle, eat-every-morsel coating. As summer treats go, the Izzy Pop is the perfect size: the 3/4-oz. scoop is big enough to feel substantial, yet not so much that it veers into overindulgence territory.
2034 Marshall Av., St. Paul, 651-603-1458, www.izzysicecream.com

Cold and caffeinated

Even on-the-fence coffee drinkers will flip for the affogato ($5.75) at Crema Cafe. Picture this: A scoop of exquisite Sonny’s ice cream melting into — while slowly mellowing — an expertly prepared espresso, one that’s brewed with top-shelf Intelligentsia beans. There are a dozen flavors in the Crema scoop case, and affogato purists might understandably turn to Crema, a simpatico selection of cream infused with roasted arabica beans. The results are predictably sublime, but for an extra flavor jolt, go for the Ultimate Chocolate — with its hints of house-made caramel and sea salt or the version with Italian amaretto — and convert dessert into an over-the-top affogato mocha. Fun fact: affogato is rooted in the Italian word affogare, or “drown.”
3403 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-822-8189, www.cremacafeminneapolis.com

Ready, set, aaaah

Pumphouse Creamery owner Barb Zapzalka is all about local and sustainably raised ingredients. Milk and cream hail from Crystal Ball Farm, a farmstead dairy in Osceola, Wis. Strawberries are plucked from southeastern Minnesota farms, tart cherries are sourced in Cold Spring, Minn., grains for the house-made cones are raised and milled in Welcome, Minn. … the list goes on, and on. For her spectacular root beer float, Zapzalka leaves nothing to chance. She concocts her own rich, foamy soda, then pours it over a hefty scoop of ice cream she front-loads with a pair of deeply flavorful fair-trade vanillas. The combination is so refreshing that it could be considered the soda fountain equivalent of a window-unit air conditioner cranked to high.
4754 Chicago Av. S., Mpls., 612-825-2021, www. pumphouse-creamery.com


Busting the Buster Bar

When faced with the daunting task of selecting a flavor from the awe-inspiring Sebastian Joe’s scoop case, take the smart fallback position and go for a B-r-r-r Bar ($4.95). It’s simplicity itself, just a jumbo Dixie cup-scaled serving of Oreo ice cream — the ultimate in black-and-white cool treats for those afflicted with a Double Stuf weakness — that’s coated in a slightly bitter chocolate and stuck on a stick. It’s the finishing-school version of Dairy Queen’s classic Buster Bar, minus the peanuts.
1007 W. Franklin Av., Mpls., 612-870-0065, and 4321 Upton Av. S., Mpls., 612-926-7916, www.sebastianjoesicecream.com


Meant to share

The words “sampler” and “dessert” were born to go with one another, right? That’s clearly the case at Wise Acre Eatery, where chef Beth Fisher fills jam jars with three of her exceptional frozen custards — vanilla, chocolate and an ever-changing special flavor, all made with a pearly cream from a local grass-fed, organic farmstead dairy — and serves them on a parchment paper-lined tray. Then she adds a half-dozen make-your-own-sundae embellishments, ranging from a rhubarb-infused caramel sauce and toasted coconut to an insanely supple hot fudge sauce. Truly, summertime do-it-yourself (two for $10, four for $15) never tasted so darned good.
5401 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-354-2577, www.wiseacreeatery.com


Sweetened landmark

For the three Twin Citians who haven’t heard that Cossetta has undergone a dramatic transformation, listen up: The St. Paul culinary landmark has blown itself out in every direction, adding a big-time restaurant and bar while re-imagining its quick-service pizza-pasta shop and its grocery, meat and cheese markets. There’s even a fancy (and entirely appropriate) new name: Cossetta Alimentari. The complex’s final addition debuted a few weeks ago, a lavish bakery and gelateria that’s really doing things right (for starters, there’s enough pink and orange marble to outfit a smallish Las Vegas casino). Along with filling a scoop case with a Technicolor-tinted selection of gelato, the shop is also featuring a few insanely good frozen temptations. There’s a chocolate-coated chocolate gelato bar — it’s a Fudgsicle on steroids — and an ice cream sandwich that boasts a Sophia Loren-like voluptuousness. For those who have been waiting for an excuse to visit downtown St. Paul, this is it.
211 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-222-3476, www.cossettas.com


Vegan goodness

When he emigrated from the Middle East as a teenager, chef Sameh Wadi became instantly hooked on American soft serve ice cream, which explains why he’s installed a souped-up soft serve machine (he’s christened her “Betty Lou”) in his popular World Street Kitchen. For a soft serve novice, he’s nailing it. The custard-like salted caramel version is the basis for a memorable sundae that’s blinged out in chocolate-coated smoked almonds and mini-marshmallows. But even more distinctive? A cup of mango-passion fruit deliciousness that’s all vegan (thanks to coconut and soy milks) but so doesn’t taste like it, topped with a beautifully seasoned apricot chutney (Wadi is a spice king) and crispy puffed wild rice. In a word, wow.
2743 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-424-8855, www.eatwsk.com


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