Cold comfort: This summer's gotta-have ice cream treats

  • Article by: RICK NELSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 6, 2014 - 11:19 AM

Thanks to blueberry-honey frozen custard and other frozen innovations, battling summertime temperatures is easier – and tastier – than ever.

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The child’s portion at Nelson’s in St. Paul.

Sundae spectacular

For a frozen indulgence of the highest order, consider the frozen custard sampler at Wise Acre Eatery. Chef Beth Fisher packs one custard with tons of vanilla bean, another has a mild cocoa vibe (a reflection of Fisher’s childhood affection for the Fudgsicle) and a third is a changes-weekly flavor. Right now it’s blueberries blended with honey harvested from the restaurant’s McLeod County farm, and it’s so addictive that Fisher plans to keep it on the menu for the month. The half-dozen finishing touches include pieces of buttery blondies, a bacon-flecked peanut brittle and a divine rhubarb-caramel sauce, and they all add up to an ideal meant-to-share warm-weather dessert, priced at $12 for two and $17 for four. (5401 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-354-2577, www.wiseacreeatery.com).

 

Scooping on Snelling

Stillwater landmark Nelson’s Ice Cream — with roots reaching back to the 1920s — has launched a scoop shop at Snelling and Randolph in St. Paul, and the takeaway for the uninitiated is the counter’s bigger-is-definitely-better credo. The child’s portion ($3.50) could probably feed a family of four, and the “triple” ($5.50) very nearly approaches half-gallon status. Seriously. The ice cream? Minnesota-made Kemps. (920 W. Olive St., Stillwater, 651-430-1103 and 454 S. Snelling Av., St. Paul, 651-348-8890, www.nelsonsicecream.biz).

Food truck find

Fro-yo: So been-there, done-that, right? Wrong. At least at the new Green + the Grain food truck — it debuted just a few days ago — which is serving a light, creamy, snowy-white and unapologetically tangy soft-serve frozen yogurt. It’s a new-to-Minnesota product, Cloud Top, and its tart, clean bite is a welcome change from the insipidly sweet and frequently chemical after-taste fro-yos. Co-owners Dustin Naugle and Tiffany Hauser sell the organic product in $4 and $6 cups, topping it with fresh berries, as well as toasted coconut. Track the truck’s whereabouts on Twitter, @GreenNtheGrain (www.greenandthegrain.com).

 

Hit the beach

Thanks to a recent Kickstarter campaign (to the tune of $17,345), Sandcastle is serving up some major DQ realness with a twist: The Lake Nokomis destination offers vanilla, chocolate and a twist of the two, and they’re all first-rate. Toppings range from an olive oil-sea salt combo to Cap’n Crunch. While the year-old beachside destination prepares to cut the ribbon on its patio (the hope is mid-month), chef/co-owner Doug Flicker is getting the hang of his latest toy. “I’ve gone to Dairy Queen all my life and it looks so easy, but making a good cone is difficult,” he said. “There’s a certain motion, a certain speed. We have a few savants that nailed it right away. I’m still trying to get it right.” (4955 W. Nokomis Pkwy., Mpls., www.sandcastlempls.com).

 

Beyond the baked goods

Patisserie 46 baker/owner John Kraus is living proof that pastry chefs frequently produce spectacular ice creams. Kraus devotes a modest segment of his constantly mobbed bakery to a half-dozen full-bodied ice creams and sorbets ($3.25 per serving), and, like the temptations lining his bakery cases, each is more luscious than the last. Where to begin? The coffee-bourbon sings with a baritone dark-roast throttle, the salted caramel sports the nuance that others in its class rarely approach and the lemon-basil sorbet boasts a concentrated citrus wallop. Let the scooping begin. (4552 Grand Av. S., Mpls., 612-354-3257, www.patisserie46.com).

By the pint

When buddies Ben Solberg and Erik Powers both received ice cream makers as gifts within weeks of each other, the serendipity sparked a friendly competition. “We went down this rabbit hole, experimenting with this whole new flavor landscape,” said Solberg. “Every week we’d try to one-up one another.” Their hobby evolved into a part-time vocation they call FrozBroz, and their product packs a one-two sweet-spot punch: a hyper-rich formula (“This isn’t designed for people to sit down and eat gallons of,” said Solberg, the understatement of the year) crossed with out-of-left-field ingredients: bone marrow, bee pollen, watercress. A recent favorite skillfully pairs tangy buttermilk with ground cherries, “one of our favorite sleeper summer-produce items,” said Solberg. “We bought a bunch from the Bossy Acres girls [in Northfield] at the end of the harvest last fall, and preserved them in a jam. We’ve been saving it for the right time. It’s kind of a summer preview.” Sales are in pints only ($10), with very limited availability: Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. — and the last Saturday of each month from 1 to 4 p.m. — at their south Minneapolis commissary kitchen. (CityFoodStudio, 3722 Chicago Av. S., Mpls., www.frozbroz.com).

 

By the pint, Part 2

Ashlee Olds is reminding the world — well, the Twin Cities, anyway — what ice cream used to taste like before the advent of stabilizers, artificial flavors and other tradition-killing “improvements.” A commitment to locally sourced, organically raised ingredients means that handmade Sweet Science ice creams radiate a beguiling simplicity and purity. While well-versed in vanilla, chocolate, toasted coconut and other tried-and-true flavors, Olds obviously revels in unorthodox seasonal choices: white chocolate-Earl Grey tea, eggnog, blueberry-sweet corn. Find it in pints ($9) and handy 4-ounce cups ($3) at Verdant Tea, where tea master David Duckler is transforming his kitchen into a veritable small-business incubator. It’s where Olds crafts her ice creams and where Duckler’s 17-year-old sister Eva Duckler is launching Tree Fort Soda. Right now she’s turning out a fresh strawberry soda, a ginger soda and a wildly refreshing root beer that’s generously infused with sarsaparilla, anise, vanilla and honey accents. It was born to be paired, float-wise ($6), with Olds’ ice creams. “That’s part of our grand summer scheme here,” said David Duckler with a laugh. “We’re going to be making tons of root beer floats.” (2111 E. Franklin Av., Mpls., www.sweetscienceicecream.com).

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