For many Minnesotans, a cone of ice cream is the quintessential summer dessert. But not so for many Excelsior residents. Instead, they often trade swap ice cream cones for custard—and they know to head straight for Adele’s Frozen Custard, tucked in Excelsior Bay and steps away from Highway 7, for a local taste of homemade goodness.
While custard is like a cousin of ice cream, many customers don’t know the difference between the two, but they do know that Adele’s houses an incredibly delicious dessert.
Ice cream and custard share three basic ingredients: egg, sugar and cream. But while ice cream uses only egg whites, custard relies on the egg yolks to give it its unique velvety texture. Like ice cream, custard must be simultaneously churned and chilled. It’s during this mixing process that they other key difference between ice cream and custard occurs.
“When ice cream is made,” says Adele’s manager Emma Nordeen, “air is whipped into the mixture. But a custard mixer pushes air out. This makes it incredibly creamy. Our custard is smoother than ice cream.”
In part, it’s this simple combination of egg yolk, sugar and cream that brings people in droves to Adele’s. Nordeen believes that this is the only homemade custard shop for miles around, and residents and tourists alike make it a point to stop by for a special treat.
Summer evenings means non-stop customers—and a lot of custard. One batch of custard, which Nordeen and crew can whip up in just under half an hour, measures three and a half gallons. During the summer, a beautiful weekend day can require as many as 20 freshly made batches of custard. That’s almost 70 gallons of homemade custard per day! Additionally, a good day at Adele’s requires the staff to bake up 14 dozen homemade waffle cones. It’s this commitment to quality ingredients and homemade delicacies that is evident down to the last bite.
Adele’s long list of flavors is another crowd-pleaser. When the original Adele first opened her aptly named shop in 1988, she created around 70 different flavors of custard. These original options still appear on the custard calendar, along with 20 new recipes. The custard shop, which is open during an extended seasonal period from March until Thanksgiving plus the Saturday before Christmas, promotes its flavors on a monthly calendar. Each day, Adele’s staff mixes up a fresh batch of vanilla and chocolate as well as one or two specialty flavors, like turtle sundae, chocolate raspberry truffle or fried ice cream. Nordeen says that many flavors have their own following. She says she often sees the same customers every time a certain flavor appears on the calendar.
“We have a local family who comes in every time pistachio is on the menu,” says Nordeen. “A lot of people have their favorites, and it’s fun to have customers who are so committed to our product.”
Adele’s staff consists of primarily local teens and college students, and they get in on the fun of flavors, too. Each August, the employees compete to develop a potential new custard flavor. Every employee can submit one or two ideas, and sample batches are made. Customers vote on the new creations and in early September, the top five vote-getters are announced. From there, Adele’s current owner, Jenny Parker, makes the final decision with the managers. The 2010 winner was Fat Elvis, a delectable combination of peanut butter, banana and brownie chunks.
If you need something with sustenance before devouring a rich dessert like Fat Elvis, check out Adele’s list of sandwiches, made fresh daily with vegetables from local farmers. Other summer must-haves include hot dogs, bratwursts, milkshakes and lemonade.
If you haven’t already visited Adele’s, Nordeen encourages you to drop by and experience the homey environment, quality service and range of menu options. You might be surprised to find that you, too, have room in your heart—and your stomach—for another favorite frozen dessert.