Great Humor

Three Minnesota gems with ice cream cakes and frozen pies prove you can have your cake and lick it too

Izzy's Ice Cream Café
2034 Marshall Ave., St. Paul
Medical Arts Building
825 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
Marshall Fields Minneapolis, First Floor

Adele's Frozen Custard
800 Excelsior Blvd., Excelsior

Slices for summer: Izzy's owner Jeffrey Sommers with a watermelon ice cream cake
Diana Watters
Slices for summer: Izzy's owner Jeffrey Sommers with a watermelon ice cream cake

Location Info


Izzy's Ice Cream Cafe

2034 Marshall Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55104

Category: Restaurant > Cafe

Region: Macalester/Groveland

Adele's Frozen Custard

800 Excelsior Blvd.
Excelsior, MN 55331

Category: Restaurant > Cafe

Region: Excelsior

Crema Cafe

3403 Lyndale Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Category: Restaurant > Breakfast

Region: Uptown/ Eat Street

Crema Café
3403 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis

Look, I'm not saying that Christmas isn't the very worst birthday. Clearly, Christmas, Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, those are the Iron-Maiden-with-Thumbscrews of birthdays. I don't need to tell you about the gruesome present piggybacking, the ghastly happy birthday hats drawn on Santa Claus paper, the grisly, vicious, achingly hollow "Happy Birthday!" postscripts on the frolicking reindeer holiday cards.

I mean, don't tell me that I'm turning into a politician, skipping over the real problems to focus on the flashy, easily remedied crowd-pleasers. Oh, no. Don't you dare denigrate the very real sufferings of the summer-birthday afflicted, those invisible, hardworking, taxpaying citizen-ghosts who flit among us.

I mean, please, please, won't you let them into your hearts? Just picture them. Sitting there all year behind their penmanship workbooks, watching the other kids' mothers ferry in groaning cartons of cupcakes, and then--boom! A week after school ends, this town is a ghost town, and you're watching Mom complain that it's too hot to cook while she tries to hammer a candle into an unwrapped brick of Blue Bunny ice cream.

Do not stand by and let these injustices fester.

No! Especially not when we live in a greater metropolitan area just brimming with tasty ice cream cakes and delicious frozen pies.

For instance, did you know that the various Izzy's locations around town now sell ice cream cakes that have all the snazzy jazz and pop of something on a bridal-magazine cover, but are filled with Izzy's heat-busting, crowd-pleasing, homemade ice creams? It's true!

Here's the deal. Give the Izzy's folks two days notice, and they will make a cake for you from any of the flavors they have on hand or commonly make, such as Norwegian chai, cream cheese, bananas Foster, bubble gum, chocolate dulce de leche, coffee espresso chip, banana macadamia nut, lemon custard, strawberry cheesecake, and about a billion others. If you can't choose just one, they'll layer two flavors in there for you, separated by a layer of their rich homemade fudge or caramel. You also get to choose between a graham cracker or chocolate cookie crust. (Izzy's prices start at $21 for a six-inch round ice cream cake that feeds six to eight, and stagger up through several sizes till they reach the $40 range for a vast ice cream disc that serves 30-some guests.)

If you don't have two days' notice, there are generally about a dozen beautifully decorated cakes ready to go in the St. Paul store. I'm particularly enchanted by the ones that are bright green outside, fuchsia up top, and decorated with little black spots of watermelon seeds; they look like cross-sections of watermelons, as seen in the most innocent of electric Kool-Aid dreams.

However, if you do have two days' notice, Izzy's cake decorator, Nicole Bettini, will decorate a cake to your exact liking: daffodils or lilies, mums or poinsettias, frogs in wheelbarrows, bowling balls smashing into bowling pins, ballerinas, unicorns, a replica of your favorite Gong Show iron-on, or whatever. In keeping with the unspeakably wholesome tricycles-and-moo-cows air at Izzy's, Bettini works full-time at the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and part-time decorating cakes to pay off her college loans.

In this instance, part-time doesn't mean amateurish, however, as Bettini has been decorating cakes since she was 11, working at her mother's side on wedding cakes in Tulsa and learning all the tricks of piping poppies and ruffling roses. (The buttercream Izzy's uses to ice their cakes is a freezable buttercream invented by Bettini's mother.)

These fancy ice cream cakes are part of Izzy's larger plan to try to move into the non-cone parts of the ice cream business. If you check out their website or stop by the St. Paul store, as I did a few times recently, you'll find their new, non-cone possibilities staggering: The best invention has to be golf-ball sized scoops of ice cream stuck onto a lollipop stick and dipped in dark Belgian chocolate. This, my friends, is an Izzy Pop. It's a great development, because of the dark chocolate, yes, but also because it solves the great ice cream dilemma: By the time your mouth starts to freeze, whoops! It's gone. These cost $1.25 each, but--party planners, take heed!--they're just $1.10 each if you're buying 25 or more. They're a particularly great treat to pass out at parties because of the no-mess, no-plates factor.

Izzy's is also experimenting with restaurant-worthy frozen desserts such as "cherry bombs," Belgian chocolate domes filled with their cherries jubilee ice cream, which is made with a touch of cherry brandy; and fancy sorbet concoctions, like half-coconut shells filled with coconut sorbet, or whole frozen hollowed-out lemons or oranges, filled with lemon or orange sorbet. Fancy!

Pies--pies are always less fancy than cakes, by dint of their modest shape and humble nature. Until you close your eyes, that is. So please note that two of Minnesota's--and, I say, the world's--best frozen-treat makers also sell their wares in pie form.

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