The difference between a biscuit and a cookie is often hard to discern, especially if you're an American debating semantics with an English friend or vice versa. While it's true that the definition of biscuits and cookies can vary by region, there are some clear clues to help you decide whether you're talking about a biscuit or a cookie. Examine your biscuit or cookie and take note of its size, texture and flavor.
Biscuits and Cookies Regionally
Where you are located can make the difference between a biscuit and a cookie. What Americans typically think of as cookies are called biscuits in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Biscuits in the UK and Ireland may also be referred to as "digestives," especially when they're eaten as an evening meal or as a small snack with tea.
Sweetness of Cookies and Biscuits in the United States
In the United States, the difference between a cookie and a biscuit often comes down to sweetness. A cookie is sweeter than a biscuit, and it typically contains more sugar than a biscuit. Cookies are also considered part of a dessert menu, where biscuits are generally breakfast fare.
Size and Texture of Biscuits and Cookies
Cookies and biscuits can be discerned by their size and texture. A cookie is flatter than a biscuit. Biscuits come in two forms: breakfast biscuits, which look similar to scones, and dessert biscuits, which look more like cookies. Breakfast biscuits can contain a variety of leavening agents that you may find in a cookie, including eggs, baking soda and baking powder, but they can also contain yeast. This makes a biscuit much lighter and fluffier than a cookie. Dessert biscuits are more similar to cookies, because they're fairly flat. In fact, they are more dense than a cookie. If you feel like your cookie needs to be dunked before it's soft enough to eat, then it's likely to be a biscuit.
Accompaniments With a Biscuit or a Cookie
When you can't tell the difference between a biscuit and a cookie, sometimes the items it is served with can be an indicator. Cookies may be accompanied by ice cream, a glass of milk and chocolate desserts. If you are about to eat a biscuit, there may be jam, butter or cheeses on the table to spread on it.
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