Do You Know the Difference Between a Macaron and a Macaroon?

Macarons (left) and macaroons (right) are two very different cookies.

From left: © Michael Turek; © David Malosh

By ChefSteps Team Posted December 11, 2015

Two very different cookies, two very different appearances, flavors, and recipes, but with a remarkably similar name—so what gives?

Let’s start with the basics: A macaron (pronounced mack-a-rohn) is a confection made up of two round, flat, almond-flour-based cookies, sandwiching an emulsified filling like ganache or jam. Any variation in color or flavor is simply a variation of the filling, plus some food coloring. A macaroon (two o’s; pronounced mack-a-rOOn) is an American mounded cookie made with shredded coconut, and often dipped in chocolate. Two very different cookies, two very different appearances, flavors, and recipes, but with a remarkably similar name—so what gives? We wondered the very same thing, and when we went in pursuit of the answer, we found that the two cookies actually have much in common, including a multi-national, multi-generational history, some French monks, and—wait for it—anal secretions.

NOTE: In his fantastic article about the etymology of the macaron, Stanford Linguistics and Computer Science professor Dan Jurafsky dives deep into the history of these two cookies, and also explores how the root words may connect them to that venerable dance tradition of the 90s, the Macarena. Needless to say, Jurafsky is the leading expert on the topic, and when you're done looking at our cat-anus doodles, you should check out his James Beard–nominated book, The Language of Food. All hail Jurafsky!

Food & Wine: History of the Macaron

Ready to take it to the next level? Make your own Parisian-style cookies with our amazing French Macarons class.

The Dish
Receive delicious recipes and smart wine advice 4x per week in this e-newsletter.
The Wine List Weekly pairing plus best bottles to buy.
F&W Daily One sensational dish served fresh every day.

Sponsored Stories

powered by ZergNet