Cookie Conundrum: Macaron v Macaroons

Several people have emailed me about the spelling of macaroons. Some say the cookie should be spelled “macaron”; others insist on “macaroon.”  I debated the spelling with two food peeps who double as grammarians. They disagreed with each other. So, I picked “macaroon” because that is how it is spelled in Larousse Gastronomic. However, this person, makes a good point: the two spellings refer to two different types of cookies. Macarons are a French cookie made with almond flour, sugar, and egg whites. They are meringue-y. (Oh, that sounds like a new dance!) Macaroons are a coconut-based cookie made of egg whites, sugar and shredded coconut. I am so confused. The smartest person I know insists on “the double o” because it is the American spelling and we live and write in America. You guys decide. I’m sure Kirk is lurking out there somewhere. He’ll clear this up. Go.

12 comments on “Cookie Conundrum: Macaron v Macaroons

  1. This is a great question, especially now that French ‘macarons’ have gone mainstream (see the recent article on ‘macarons’ at McDonald’s in France (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704269004575073843836895952.html).

    All polemic aside, “macaroon” is simply the American English translation of ‘macaron.’ One can think of many other other confections where the end result in its native / authentic form differs greatly from various interpretations in other cultures’ kitchens, ie flan, tartes, crepes, even quiche. Think of the British use of the word “pudding”–that’s a whole other conundrum. To make sure we here in the States don’t mean ‘coconut macaroons,’ we can simply say ‘French macaroons.’ Or go a step further and add the French language version to our vocabulary and say ‘macaron’ (mah-cah-rohn) with a very light pronunication of the ‘n’ at the end!

  2. Beautiful examples, Paula.

    I am still stymied and will continue my quest to find the answers. I am inclined to think ‘macaron’, but for an excellent example I would eat it either way.

    I have asked no less than 30 people in the past few weeks this very question.

  3. Elizabeth above is 100% correct. (I speak French & have tried macarons (French) and macaroons in America).

  4. They are completely separate things.

    Macaroons can easily be made with coconut and sweetened condensed milk. Something the French would turn their nose at.

    Macarons take days to age the egg whites, they take precision, and if you get they right (which it looks like the recipe you posted yesterday DID NOT) then it’s amazing, light, and airy, not bumpy and messy looking.

  5. Depends on how much you love them.. the ‘oo’ should be reserved for those with fervent love for macaroons. oooooooooh.

  6. Nancy,

    I would deduct that Lindsey Danis is right, based on this post I’ve also read by Bakerella (and you can learn how to make them here as well!):

    http://www.bakerella.com/macarons

    Macarons are egg white based, and are 2 pieces of meringue that sandwich the filling. Macaroons are the chewy, toasty, coconut concoctions that we Americans might find dipped in chocolate at our local Godiva shop – and heck yes we’ll pay the $4 for it if the mood catches us right!

  7. First, Paula is my food muse and La Duree is the very best!

    And, having spent an entire day at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris last fall making macaroons (video available) it was macaroon.

  8. Macaroons are what we eat during Passover–for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I get so sick of them, I can’t look at coconut for at least 6 months.