Ice cream, along with its extended family including frozen yogurt, sherbet and sorbet, among others, is an icon of summer. Whose childhood memories would be complete without a recollection of some kind of frozen treat? Perhaps your favorite was a mounded dish of chocolate soft-serve, a hand-dipped double scoop nestled in a waffle cone, or a novelty treat on a stick, wrapped in paper and sold out of a truck. Undeniably, summer and ice cream are best together. The hottest months of the year are made more pleasurable with sweet icy refreshment, and the frozen dessert is never more delicious than when it is melting down your throat (and possibly your arm,) in the heat of summer’s embrace.
Ice cream wasn’t invented in the USA—depending on how loosely you define it, it has been around for thousands of years—but American ingenuity combined with our unquenchable passion for variety has brought scores of refinements to the frozen confection. Vanilla and chocolate still rule in the hearts and ordering habits of many, but the choices available now are staggering and continue to grow, from the bases used to create the treats, to the flavors that enhance it, and the toppings that make every serving unique in texture and taste.
Tried and True
Nowadays a consumer really can have it all: flavor, nutrition, and fun in every spoonful. Are you calorie- or fat-conscious? A locavore seeking locally sourced edibles? Lactose or gluten sensitive? Not to worry! Options for you abound, both in the first places you’d think to look when the craving for an icy dessert hits, but possibly also in the eateries you go to when dessert is literally the last thing on your mind. Consider these Maple Grove locations the next time your inner child starts chanting, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM!”
Cold Stone Creamery
Celebrating 25 years (12 in Maple Grove) and famous for blending their freshly made premium ice cream with delectable add ins of fruit, candy, cake and/or nuts on an icy granite slab, Cold Stone also offers frozen yogurt and dairy free sorbet. If the variety of individual combinations is too much for you, try an option from their signature creations menu, for instance their birthday cake remix, which makes any day a celebration, or satisfy both your coffee and chocolate cravings in the same bowl with Coffee Lovers Only. 7765 Main St.; 763.494.9161; coldstonecreamery.com
Selling soft-serve frozen desserts since their creation in 1940, DQ is now a fast food world leader making its headquarters here in Minnesota. Their dairy treat menu spans the gamut from a classic dish of sweet vanilla to a no-holds-barred dessert experience like the chocolate covered strawberries waffle bowl sundae. In August, their featured blended blizzard treat flavor is tripleberry brownie but you can’t go wrong with either of their national best-sellers: chocolate chip cookie dough or oreo cookies. 13770 83rd Way N.; 763.420.9830; dairyqueen.com
This Minnesota-based franchise keeps it close to home with frozen yogurt made from the milk of Minnesota cows and focuses on using all natural flavors and colors in the yogurt and sorbet bases for their products. The store offers board games to play while enjoying any of the classic menu items, one of the newer flavors like salted caramel, or a fun combination like banana crème pie using a vanilla base topped with bananas, cheesecake bits, whipped cream and graham cracker bits or granola for crunch. Flavors rotate so check with the store often to see what is currently available. 9408 Dunkirk Lane N.; 763.488.1599; freeziac.com
Variety is key with 50 rotating flavors of yogurt and sorbet, and more than 50 toppings to choose from. If that isn’t enough, this summer Cherry Berry is also offering twisted flavors to let customers combine compatible favorites. If you would like to add a protein punch to your frozen yogurt treat, go with their Greek option, including flavors such as java caramel, berry and honey vanilla. Flavors rotate, check in with staff to catch up with what is currently on the menu. 11630 Fountains Drive; 763.273.4538; cherryberryyogurtbar.com
Taking your frozen dessert options one step further, Tutti Frutti offers frozen yogurt, sorbet and a dairy free option made from soy beans. The soy bean frozen yogurt flavor is described as sweet but subtle and is naturally high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals. The soy bean frozen yogurt is free of gluten, dairy, eggs and MSG and is made using soy beans grown organically in the United States. Numerous other options are available with something to suit nearly any dietary need or flavor preference. 7781 Main St.; 763.416.0362; tfyogurt.com
Off The Beaten Path
Most restaurants that have desserts on their menu offer some kind of ice cream, whether it stands alone as the featured item or is a delicious add-on as in the case of pie a la mode, the hot fudge brownie sundae or the apple crostata topped with melting scoop of vanilla. Here are two local restaurants that go beyond the traditional and urge you to save a little room to try something both different and delicious.
The Rodizio Grill is a carnivore’s paradise with their “all you can eat” approach to roasted meats—and of course glazed pineapple, salad bar and appetizers—but patrons who hold back just a tad can also be delighted with their desserts. The brigadeiro royal banana sundae (featuring a Brazilian take on chocolate cake) and the rabanada (warm cinnamon pastry with a creamy center) both pair up well with a scoop of their vanilla ice cream, but ice cream purists will want to try one of the Brazilian creams. Rodizio blends amazing premium vanilla bean ice cream with pureed fresh fruit for a dense and flavorful treat. Guests can choose mango, passion fruit, strawberry, raspberry, papaya and coconut or any combination of these for the perfect finish to an exotic meal experience. 12197 Elm Creek Blvd N.; 763.657.1133; rodiziogrill.com
Kyoto Sushi and Hibachi
Kyoto Sushi and Hibachi is another example of the kind of restaurant that features an amazing variety of delicious entrees, but might not be the first place you’d think of for ice cream. It would be a shame to miss the opportunity to try out the three flavors they offer as part of their “all you can eat” menu: vanilla for the traditional, the red bean paste ice cream which has a sweet and slightly nutty flavor for the more adventurous, and their most popular, the green tea ice cream which has a satisfying subtle flavor tea lovers will recognize but which is also appealing to a wide audience, explaining why some patrons call in an order for the dessert as a takeout item on its own ($1.99 per serving when ordered a la carte.) 13751 Grove Drive; 763.488.1588; kyotomn.com