Bisque ice cream is available in grocery stores and in ice cream parlors. However, you wouldn’t know it, because “bisque” is an old-fashioned name for frozen confections containing crunchy ingredients. Fannie Merritt Farmer, who changed the world of cooking by quantifying ingredients in recipes, published directions for making bisque ice cream in 1896. You can make your own from scratch or simply by mixing crushed cookies or nuts into prepared ice cream.

History of Bisque Ice Cream

Bisque ice cream developed in the 18th century when cooks folded crushed cookies — then called biscuits — into frozen desserts. In her book “Of Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making,” Jeri Quinzio writes that cooks called these confections “biscuits glac├ęs, biscuit cream ices, biscuit ice creams, biscuits Americana, and even … bisques” — a term associated with French shellfish soups. It’s possible, Quinzio adds, that someone may have used the French word to make a humble dessert sound more sophisticated. To make a modern bisque ice cream that is true to the treat’s historical texture, keep the bits of crunchy ingredients small, such as finely crushed cookies and chopped nuts.

Fannie Farmer’s Recipe

Fannie Farmer was a cooking teacher and the principal of the Boston Cooking School in the late 19th century. In 1896, she revised the school’s teaching text and retitled it “The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book.” It contained two recipes for bisque ice cream — one calling for finely chopped hazelnuts or English walnuts, and another containing “pounded macaroons” along with crushed almonds and peanuts. Farmer’s cookbook became so famous that it was revised and republished numerous times beyond her death in 1915; nowadays it is called “The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.” By the 12th edition, in 1979, the cookbook no longer used the term bisque, but it still contained an old-fashioned bisque-style recipe incorporating brown breadcrumbs.

Modern Bisque Ice Cream Recipes

Occasionally, a recipe for bisque ice cream appears in contemporary publications; in 2007 Florida’s “Sun Sentinel” published one that uses tiny, crunchy cereal nuggets in vanilla ice cream. This variation from traditional bisque ice cream indicates the adaptability of the dish, including a way to cut sugar. Breadcrumbs are another low-sugar alternative. However, it is the crispy, caramelized crumbs of Victorian brown bread ice cream that still make it a hit today. The U.K.’s Cookit website offers a recipe as part of its lessons on late 19th-century history. Unlike most modern cooks, Victorians served brown bread ice cream between the courses of lavish dinners, not as dessert.

South Dakota’s Cookie Ice Cream

Although not referred to as a bisque ice cream, the most famous, current bisque-style treat may be the recipe that South Dakota State University invented in 1979 in its dairy manufacturing program. SDSU named its confection for the Oreo chocolate sandwich cookie bits that its research team crumbled in vanilla ice cream during repeated trials to find the perfect mix. Ice cream manufacturers popularized the blend and renamed it “Cookies ‘n’ Cream.” You can make your own using any kind of chocolate sandwich cookies.