From here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biscuit

according to American English dictionary Merriam-Webster, a cookie is a "small flat or slightly raised cake".[4] A biscuit is "any of various hard or crisp dry baked product"

Also, I read somewhere on the net that Britishers call "biscuits" cookies.

Now, I wish to understand that in the author Rose Levy's book of Christmas cookies, should I expect English Cookies*(biscuits)*, or American Cookies*(soft cakes)*?

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    The question is quite hard to understand, because it's not clear when you're using words in their en-gb sense and when in their en-us sense. In the hope of clarifying some of the confusion: I don't think there's anything which a Brit would call a "cookie" and which an American wouldn't also call a "cookie". However, "cookie" in en-gb tends to imply either that it is relatively large (maybe 6cm diameter) and chewy or that it contains chocolate chips. – Peter Taylor Nov 11 '12 at 15:59
  • @PeterTaylor Would you add as an answer a clear difference between a biscuit and a cookie? This is called biscuit in India: amazon.com/Britannia-Good-Cashew-Cookies-3-17oz/dp/B001VYMJG2 – Aquarius_Girl Nov 11 '12 at 16:10
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    @AnishaKaul You're still doing it - are you asking about the difference between "biscuit (UK, India)" and "cookie (US)"? There pretty much isn't one - they're different words for the same thing. – Cascabel Nov 11 '12 at 16:23
  • @Jefromi that's sad, but thanks. :) – Aquarius_Girl Nov 11 '12 at 23:58

What Americans call cookies, other people (e.g. Britain, Australia, India) call biscuits. Christmas cookies are cookies in the American sense. The cookbook is American; if it were British I assume it'd be called Christmas Biscuits.

"Small flat or slightly raised cake" is a bit of a bad dictionary definition; though they are small and flat, cookies can be soft, chewy, or crunchy, and the texture is not really like a cake. I don't think any American would think to describe cookies as "small cakes". The commonality is that they're something you can pick up and hold in your hand without it falling apart, they're flat (of course, some are thicker than others), and you can eat them in not too many bites (though bakeries do often have pretty big cookies).

I think you let the American vs. British thing confuse you too much. The title says "cookies." In the US, this means what I discussed above. In the UK, apparently it's a plain bun in Scotland, but this obviously is not a book about plain buns. So it's clearly American cookies.

If you do a Google image search for cookies everything you see should be American cookies - and unsurprisingly, most of them are chocolate chip. Similarly, searching for christmas cookies should get you American Christmas cookies, though they're mostly sugar cookies with Christmas decorations, not the more interesting things that are in that cookbook. (I'm pretty sure this should still be true in India, because "cookie" doesn't mean much else there, and most of the internet is American English.) If you search for "biscuits", what you get will depend on where you are - in the US, I see American biscuits (like these), while you in India might see things like the cashew biscuits you mentioned.

  • actually, in India, I have seen what we call biscuits are actually "labeled" cookies: amazon.com/Britannia-Good-Cashew-Cookies-3-17oz/dp/B001VYMJG2 This is a common "biscuit" in India, but I was today surprised to see it being labeled a cookie. This thing is NOT soft like cake, it is crispy, and needs to be "chewed". Is this what Americans call cookies? – Aquarius_Girl Nov 11 '12 at 16:08
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    Assuming it's sweet, that is one thing that would be called a cookie in the US, yes. But like I said in my answer, cookies can be soft, chewy, crunchy, crispy, or anything in between. This is why I said "cake" is a bad description. – Cascabel Nov 11 '12 at 16:25

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