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Published July 23, 2012, 11:30 PM

Chill out with locally made frozen treats

FARGO - Frozen yogurt may seem like it’s selling hotter than it will melt on a July sidewalk here, but there are other frozen fortes out there that are just as cool.

By: Wendy Reuer, INFORUM

FARGO - Frozen yogurt may seem like it’s selling hotter than it will melt on a July sidewalk here, but there are other frozen fortes out there that are just as cool.

While the standard ice cream waxes nostalgic – especially from Charlie’s Ice Cream Parlor in downtown Fargo, where the décor will take you back to your childhood – other frozen treats are gaining popularity, and homemade versions can be found around the metro area.

Gelato

This creamy delight is the most similar to traditional ice cream.

“There is so much history about it. It’s the Italian version of ice cream,” said Nichole Hensen, owner of Nichole’s Fine Pastry, where they serve a variety of homemade gelato and sorbet.

The creamy-tasting pleasure may be similar to ice cream, but there are some heavy differences, Hensen said.

She explains that the cuisine term is called “overrun,” or the amount of air whipped or churned into the product.

“It’s fair to say ice cream overrun might be 50 to 100 percent and gelato is 30 to 35 percent. So gelato can appear denser, creamier, because there is not as much air in the product,” Hensen aid. “Gelato is lower in fat and (has) fewer calories than ice cream, typically.”

Hensen recently attended out-of-state training to hone her gelato-making skills and returned armed with new ideas and new recipes to try. She said she experiments with flavors but tries to keep a few standards in the freezer at her pastry shop. Vanilla and chocolate variations are almost always available as well as some type of “nut” flavor such as hazelnut or pistachio. Nut variations are a nod to gelato’s Italian history, as travelers to the country visiting an authentic gelato shop there will almost always find similar flavors, Hensen said.

“We’ve been running some flavors for a month at a time so some of the flavors are there long enough for people to pass the word,” Hensen said.

A popular creation of Hensen’s has been her “birthday cake” gelato. Vanilla gelato mixed with funfetti and cake mix, the gelato flavor will have most searching for a piñata and birthday clown in the area after one bite.

Regardless of which flavor, gelato brings sophistication to ice cream eating.

“I think there is going to be a significant difference that you’ll taste in the quality of what they’re eating,” Hensen said. “You’re getting some dairy; it’s a good source of calcium. If everything is consumed in moderation, it’s OK.”

Sorbet

For those who are looking for a non-dairy frozen treat, sorbet is the ticket.

“Maybe you’re missing some fruit in your weekly consumption. Have some sorbet,” Hensen said.

Nichole’s also hand- makes sorbet and tries to keep a variety of flavors on hand.

“We’re able to puree fresh fruit,” Hensen said. “Strawberry is pretty popular. We’ve got some melon on our mind, and I have peach on my mind.”

The HoDo Restaurant is also serving homemade sorbet as a dessert option. The flavor changes routinely.

Ice cream

Charlie’s Ice Cream Parlor may not serve homemade ice cream, but the nostalgic atmosphere and perfect portion sizes more than make up for it.

Cold Stone Creamery is highlighting banana split flavorings this summer. Mixing chocolate, strawberry, nuts and bananas into French vanilla ice cream and topped with whipped cream makes their Classic Banana Royal taste just like the old-school favorite.

Of course, if all else fails, Dairy Queen still holds the reins of the soft-serve kingdom with two Moorhead locations, three in Fargo and one each in West Fargo and Dilworth.

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