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What is the difference between a cookie and a biscuit?

Wednesday 16th March 2016

There’s a surprising amount of debate surrounding the definition of what is a biscuit and what is a cookie. Depending upon which side of the Atlantic you live on, a cookie in the US could mean both a biscuit and a cookie, while an American
biscuit is a British… scone. Confused? Here is a very brief UK-focused distinction before we get on with the decorating:

A cookie

In the UK a cookie is often a little chunkier, softer and moister than a biscuit. More recent times have seen a cookies increase their appeal over the humble biscuit, with entire shops and stalls dedicated to their production and enjoyment. Because of their supple texture, cookies are great for incorporating whole or chopped ingredients like nuts, chocolate chips, Smarties, caramel chunks, raisins and much more. It is less common to see cookies decorated on the outside.

A biscuit

From the Latin meaning ‘twice baked’, a biscuit is much firmer than a cookie. A biscuit is usually smaller; it might contain currents; two biscuits might be pressed together with a filling, or it could be topped with icing or chocolate. It is reasonable to assume that most biscuits can be dipped in tea. In terms of decoration, a simple biscuit recipe lends itself to all manner of decorative elements.

How to decorate a biscuit or cookie

For the purposes of this article we will explore an example of decorating both a biscuit and a cookie, connected only by their love heart theme.

Love Heart Cookies

These delightful milk chocolate chunk cookies make a perfect gift for your favourite person. The yielding texture, offset by the soft vanilla piping and the crunch of sugar roses, make each bite a sensory experience. The decorative elements are not so fussy that they distract from the texture and flavour of the cookie which marks the difference between decorating a cookie compared to a biscuit.

Royal Icing flooded love heart biscuits

The ingredients of this biscuit recipe are simple: just butter, caster sugar and plain flour. These heart biscuits can be a little less rich than their heart cookie counterpart, so their sweetness comes instead from the glossy layer of royal icing. It’s the peachy delicacy of the colouring that makes this biscuit so appealing. Though equally lovely to look at, royal icing dries very firmly, so these tasty morsels have a much tougher bite than the cookie’s frosting decoration.


<h2>Biscuit and cookie decorating: 5 quick tips</h2>

Because of their relative plainness, biscuits lend themselves more readily to elaborate decoration, whereas all the intriguing elements of the cookie tend to exist within the bake itself. How you would like to decorate your tasty tea or coffee accompaniment is entirely up to you. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Fondant icing can be rolled flat and cut into shapes very readily. There are dozens of colours to experiment with and you can layer it very effectively as these delightful snowflake biscuits demonstrate.
  • Use colour melts to dip biscuits or cookies in, add sprinkles to them, and then allow them to set. These dipped sprinkle biscuits add a fun aspect to the basic chunky biscuit.
  • The general rule is that the more complex the biscuit flavor, the less decoration is necessary, therefore these white chocolate and cherry biscuits need only the most subtle gesture of icing drizzled over them to taste complete.
  • Marzipan is an incredibly versatile decorative element as these marvelous owl biscuits demonstrate. The playful colours of the marzipan, which adheres to the biscuit with apricot jam, enhance the owls’ individual characters.


  • Biscuit pops are a fun alternative to the increasingly popular cake pop. These biscuit pops are decorated simply with a drizzle of white chocolate and then sprinkled with coloured sugar crystals. They are both easy to eat and fun to dunk in one’s tea.

Why not browse our recipes to explore a huge variety of exciting
biscuit decorating ideas?