“Dessert is aspirational,” former White House pastry Chef Bill Yosses once said. “It’s the one part of the meal you don’t have to eat. It’s the purest part of the meal: the art part. But it’s also the greediest part, the eat-it-in-a-closet part. We don’t have to have it, but we do. . .”
I know I do. Check out these awesome establishments for the sweetest way to end your meal.
ANOTHER TIME ICE CREAM PARLOR
(www.facebook.com/anothertimeicecream – Lanesboro)
Owners Jay and Anne Cecko’s ice cream parlor is open April through October, and they carry circa 16 flavors of Bridgeman’s ice cream. The Ceckos brew Caribou coffee drinks with a full espresso bar, and offer Abdallah chocolates. They concoct smoothies, frappes, shakes and malts. Caramelicious, with swirls of caramel and pieces of chocolate caramel candies, is quite popular, as is the Salted Caramel Espresso, with a hint of coffee, caramel swirls, and flecks of chocolate throughout. Of course, the multi-colored Superman, with vanilla, blue raspberry and red raspberry, is a huge hit with the kids. The store’s root beer floats, served with Bridgeman’s vanilla ice cream, are perfect after a long bicycle ride on the Root River Trail. “In late September, we feature Pumpkin ice cream, which tastes just like pumpkin pie. It’s delicious. We like to use that flavor in our Affagoto espresso drink – it’s like a pumpkin spice latte on steroids. Also in September we have pumpkin spice lattes available,” expressed Anne. Jay and Anne flaunt a beautiful patio with seating and umbrellas; where guests can sit with family and friends, sand enjoy their delicious treats.
AROMA PIE SHOPPE
(www.facebook.com/aromapieshoppe – Whalan)
A plethora of pies: Apple, Carmel Apple Crumb, Peach, Blackberry Peach, Blueberry Peach Crumb, Blueberry, Bumbleberry, Cherry, Tripleberry, Bluebarb, Rhubarb, Strawberry Rhubarb, Blueberry Custard Crumb, Rhubarb Custard, Minnesota Maple, Pecan, Chocolate Cashew, Banana, Coconut, Sour Cream Raisin, Vanilla Cream with fresh fruit on top, Peanut Butter, Orange Dreamsicle, Lemon Poppyseed, Kaffe’ Mocha, Root River Mud – all chocolate. Owner and baker extraordinaire Karna Nelson Hudoba is in her fourth year of creating exquisite pies for local residents and visitors from all over the world. Karna’s most popular pies are the strawberry rhubarb and the caramel apple crumb. However, she is most famous for her awesome Minnesota Maple. It has a gooey base, similar to a nut base, with maple syrup, oatmeal, topped and baked with toasted coconut. Tastes like breakfast! “We are a seasonal pie shop located in a town of maybe 40 people. The sign says 63 but that’s outdated. We are steps from a very beautiful and busy Root River Trail. So most of our business, about 95%, comes from folks wearing fancy spandex bicycle gear. They, like all of my customers, are awesome folks,” exclaimed Nelson Hudoba. All of Karna’s pies are made from scratch and baked right in Whalan. It’s always a challenge to keep up with the traffic that comes from the trail. Karna says that they need to be ready for the one-to-500-plus slices that need to be served (open every year on Saturday & Sunday, Mother’s Day weekend in May; then closed the Saturday of MEA, which is the 3rd Saturday in October).
THE BACKEREI & COFFEE SHOP
(www.backereinewulm.com – New Ulm)
A donut and a coffee for under $2.00 at the Backerei & Coffee Shop, where Amanda and Craig Hacker are head bakers and owners. Their staff includes Kelly Schmitz, Elizabeth Schrupp, Nancy Johnson, Olivia Blake, and Kelsie Schultz. While the Hackers’ most popular product is the donut, their apple fritters and maple/nutty Persians, are fan favorites as well. The cinnamon rolls are a huge favorite, because of their gigantic size and amazing taste. “We offer a variety of seasonal items, which include our popular frosted cutouts, Christmas cookie trays, and fruitcake (available in November). We will be adding cakes back to the menu as they, like the pies, scones, cupcakes, and apple turnovers, are in high demand,” explained the Hackers. “Ours is more than just a bakery. It’s a place where memories are relived and created. The community has been very supportive of the bakery. We wouldn’t be able to survive without that support, and we’re truly grateful,” Amanda and Craig remarked.
BETTY SUE’S BETTER BREW CAFE
(www.facebook.com/bettysuesbetterbrewcafe – Pine Island)
BobbiJo Kennedy is the owner of the quaint and very popular café. She and her mother, Jo Webber, take care of the cooking and baking. Scratch-made pies are fashioned by request, and that also includes cinnamon streusel coffee cake. Butter pecan bars are among the favorites (very rich and gooey). Other specialties are: Lemon Bars (short bread crust, just like grandma use to make, with a tangy lemon filling); Reese’s Peanut Butter Triple Chocolate Cake (three layers of triple chocolate cake, layered with Ganache, peanut butter, and Reese’s peanut butter cups). “Every day, I make three different kinds of bars, two different kinds of pies, donuts, cookies, pastries, sweet bread, coffee cake, muffins, and cupcakes. People say it reminds them of their grandmother’s baking!” Kennedy exclaimed. Betty Sue’s offers breakfast all day plus lunch and dinner (Mom Jo concocts scratch-made soups and chili, daily). When you walk through Betty Sue’s door, you will feel at home…always a friendly smile and always a good home-cooked meal looming.
(www.facebook.com/breakfastbarnllc – Millville)
Owned by Kay Briggs and Sara Evers (cooks and bakes), the Breakfast Barn offers fabulous breakfasts and lunches, along with out-of-this-world delectable desserts (all home-made from scratch, daily); Lemon Meringue Pie–freshly-squeezed lemons; Strawberry Pie–fresh strawberries; Carrot Cake; Coconut Cream Pie; Cheesecake–blueberry, strawberry, cherry. Some of the seasonal desserts offered throughout the year include Pumpkin dessert; Apple bars; Chocolate Mint Pie; and Sour Cream Raisin Pie. “When regular customers come in for lunch, they immediately look at the board to see what is for dessert. They enjoy the low prices and large amounts of desserts that we offer,” Evers said. The sisters strive to make everything like home cooking. Their ultimate goal is to have customers feel welcome when they visit the Breakfast Barn, and Kay and Sara are doing all they can to provide everyone a great dining experience. “Millville is a great community! Our customers (regular and new customers) are amazing. We are off the beaten path so it’s awesome to see so many people come to Millville to enjoy what Breakfast Barn has to offer,” explained Sara.
(www.hubbellhouserestaurant.com – Mantorville)
Owned by Don Pappas, daughter Alaina Pappas-Mitchell oversees daily operations. The historic Hubbell House cuisine is unprecedented, but they also offer numerous delightful desserts. Originally created by great grandmother Mary Pappas, the bread pudding is scrumptious (torn bread soaked in a milk and egg mixture with raisins and cinnamon, topped with the secret recipe of home-made caramel; a unique cheesecake, made in a pie dish); top it with caramel, hot fudge, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, or the house-made crème de menthe. Check out the wonderful crème Brule, French silk dessert, and turtle ice cream crepe. Additionally, the Hubbell House staff prepares exquisite pies, from lemon meringue to strawberry rhubarb. Desserts that have stood the test of time include turtle ice cream pie and raspberry bread pudding, with whisky river sauce. “I think what sets us apart is that we are still very old school. We have not changed much over the years and that is the way we intend to keep it. There are things that need to be brought up to date, but the overall ambiance is the same as it was 73 years ago. Our job is to make the dining experience as memorable as we can. We hope there are many more years to come” – Alaina Pappas-Mitchell.
MOM & POP’S
(www.momandpopsicecream.com – Mankato)
Mom & Pop’s opened its doors in 2012, and Shawn and Casey Neitzel purchased the business in 2018. The shop’s ice cream comes from the Chocolate Shoppe in Madison Wisconsin, and the most popular flavor is Zanzibar Chocolate (three delicious kinds of cocoa for a rich brownie-like taste). The Neitzels also make their own dairy free gelato, in house, using a coconut base; available in various flavors. “At Mom & Pop’s, we are devoted to customer service and cleanliness. We strive for a superior experience, where everyone feels welcome. We have a beautiful patio area that is dog friendly, and even an old piano for the kids,” Casey explained.
NATE & ALLY’S FROZEN TREAT CREATIONS
(www.natenallys.com – Winona)
Nate & Ally’s Frozen Treat Creations is owned by Dennis and Carmon McEntaffer. N&A’s have 18 flavors of soft serve, including self-serve frozen yogurt, gelato, and Italian ice, and occasionally, custard and sorbet. The McEntaffers offer at least eight flavors of hard-scooped ice cream; up to four flavors of edible raw cookie dough; homemade ice cream sandwiches and ice cream tacos, which are ice cream in waffle cones shaped like taco shells. Some of the most popular flavors of ice cream are Michigan Pot Hole, Traffic Cone Blues (blueberry muffin ice cream with chocolate coated waffle cone), Puppy Chow, Mackinac Island Fudge, and Amaretto Cherry. Signature soft-serve flavors are Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Gelato, Chocolate Obsession Gelato, Cookies-N-Cream Frozen Yogurt, White Chocolate Mousse Frozen Yogurt and Tiger’s Blood Italian Ice. “At different times of the year, we will have flavors in our self-serve such as Spiced Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Peppermint Frozen Yogurt, and flavors of ice cream such as Gingerbread, Carrot Cake, Banana and Apple Crisp,” Nate said.
(www.omarskitchencatering.com – West Concord)
Owners Omar and Lori Feyen, opened Omar’s Café in 2010. Omar is the chef, Lori and Alexa do the baking of sweets for catering, for the café, and for the Rochester Farmer’s Markets, the last 17 years. Omar creates all of the yeast breads. Some of the scratch-made dessert buffets for brunch every week at the cafe and for weddings include: fruit pies, cream pies, cheesecake, layered cakes, such as Italian cream, Buttermilk Devil’s food, Carrot, Lemon Blueberry and Raspberry Sour Cream, just to name a few. “We are available for catering for any size group, any food from Prime Rib to a taco buffet. We pride ourselves in preparing and serving homemade good food, from scratch,” said Lori.
PEDAL PUSHERS CAFE
(www.pedalpusherscafe.com – Lanesboro)
Since 2005, Scott and Angie Taylor have owned and operated Pedal Pushers Café. The Taylor’s signature desserts include their Apple Crisp Alamode (made with Granny Smith apples and topped with locally-made vanilla ice cream; the Dutch Rhubarb Pie (made with locally grown rhubarb – when in season – and topped with a sour cream crumble topping). From time to time, Scott and Angie offer home-made root beer floats, pecan pie/bread pudding, and their famous, flourless chocolate cake. “What sets us apart from the other restaurants is our selection of comforting favorites. We source as many ingredients as we can from local farmers throughout Minnesota. We offer some unique dishes, such as our Blackened Chicken Grain Bowl, Norwegian Meatballs, Chicken Pot Pie, and Liver and Onions,” explained the Taylors.
(www.strikerscorner.com – Stewartville)
Morrie and Phyllis Schutz anchor the highly successful establishment; along with supporting characters Aaron Martin, chef/kitchen manager; Shawn Helton, assistant manager; and Brandon “Boot” Verbout-Kveene, cook/dessert specialist. Boot’s cheesecake started the dessert craze at Strikers. “I incorporate fruits into my cheesecakes. Plain is very popular but Death by Chocolate, deep-fried mini doughnuts, and Rum Chata, are top-notch.” Throughout the year, Boot prepares raspberry chiffon, key lime pie with blueberry lemon whipped cream, panna cotta, lemon meringue, mint chocolate cheesecake, and sour cream raisin pie. The facility offers a full menu plus a bar/grill, sit down dining, bowling, off sale liquor, beer and wine, music (bands) 4 times/year, and weekly summer car shows. “Since Chef Brandon started with us, he has been a wonderfully creative dessert specialist. He is always coming up with a seemingly endless choice of cheesecakes, bread puddings, and other desserts. Brandon is certainly a key part of our kitchen’s success,” said Martin.
SUGAR ROSE BAKESHOP
(www.facebook.com/sugarrosebakeshop – New Prague)
Owner and baker Jody Breathwaite prepares lots of goodies, like key lime tarts, cheesecake, sweet roulades, caramel cookie bars, raspberry oat bars, scones, coffee cakes, cupcakes, cookies and custom cakes. The key lime tarts are a sweet tart shell, baked with a key lime custard, glazed and topped with fresh whipped cream and lime zest. “Our cheesecakes are very popular, especially the fresh fruits; however, we also offer other toppings, such as cookie dough, Oreo, toffee bar, snicker bar and chocolate mousse,” said Breathwaite. Jody’s coffee cakes are vanilla, buttery cakes made with brown sugar cinnamon streusel in the middle and on the top. Others are filled with fresh seasonal fruit, caramel or chocolate. A few favorites include: brownie crumble (chocolate cupcake with fresh baked brownies on top), raspberry lemonade (lemon cupcake filled with raspberry, topped with lemon buttercream), Italian raspberry (vanilla cupcake filled with raspberry topped with a whipped Italian buttercream), root beer float (root beer infused cupcake topped with vanilla mousse), and cookie overload (chocolate cupcake with cookies and cream buttercream and topped with chocolate chip cookie dough. Jody is excited for fall, when she starts making pumpkin and apple sweet roulades, with fresh, local apples, ciders and spices. Breakfast items at the bakeshop include: scones, puff pastry turnovers, coffee cakes and occasionally muffins and pop tarts. “What I think brings customers in repeatedly, are the freshness and variety. We bake every day, all day, and we strive to give customers what they want!” exclaimed Breathwaite.
(www.woodenspoonmn.com – Mankato)
Natasha Frost is the owner of Wooden Spoon, a five-year going concern in Mankato. Natasha has a wide range of ever-changing desserts. Some of the regular, signature desserts at the Spoon include giant, fresh-baked cookies and nutty mocha bars. “Some desserts that customers ask us to make time and time again are our giant, gooey, pecan turtles, our sweet and flaky peach pie bars, our delicious rhubarb cookie sandwiches with cream cheese frosting, and our keto coconut lemon bars!” exclaimed Frost. Throughout the year, Natasha offers many different brownie combinations, bars, different flavor coffee cakes, and apple, blueberry, or rhubarb fruit crisps. “The team is committed to putting their hearts and souls into their food. We are inspired by our customers and work hard to give them the best food experience possible.” – Natasha Frost
(www.fishermaninn.com – Oronoco)
Jim Peterson navigates Fisherman’s Inn, with the help of son, JJ, and daughter, Breanna. Aside from the celebrated hand-cut filets, savory Canadian walleye, succulent king crab, and the best salad bar around, the Fisherman’s Inn crew offers some of the most unrivaled ice cream after-dinner drinks anywhere. For years, people have stopped in for the minty grasshopper, or better yet, the brandy alexander. Other popular “quenchers” include the pink squirrel and the golden Cadillac. After all, who wouldn’t want to sit alongside beautiful Lake Zumbro and enjoy one of these? Whatever the season, whatever the weather, the Petersons serve-up ice cream drinks that hit the spot. Fisherman’s Inn is open year-round, seven days a week. Sunday brunch is a must, as well as regular menu offerings nightly, including the home-made soup, and salad bar. “What sets Fisherman’s Inn apart is the million-dollar view; sitting by the windows and enjoying the boats, the ice fishing, and the breathtaking ambiance”– The Peterson
By Pat Garry