Thursday, May 14, 2015

Macaron vs. Macaroon: The confusion between macarons (pronounced mah-kah-ROHN) and macaroons (pronounced mah-kah-ROON) happens all the time. But is it just a difference of spelling or of pronunciation? Not at all! And if you have a sweet tooth like us, we thought you would want the patissiere expertise to tell the difference between these sugary confections.

Let’s start with the aesthetics: macarons look nothing like macaroons. Clearly there is something besides an extra o that makes these two cookies so different. But despite appearances, macarons and macaroons are distant cookie cousins with a shared past!

History Lesson: According to popular myth, the macaron, despite being most popular with the French, was created circa 1533 in Italy by the chef of Catherine de Medici, who brought her sweet tooth indulgence to France when she married the French king. Since macarons bear a striking resemblance to the Italian cookie amaretti, and share the same origin as the Italian word “macaroni”, this version of history sounds good to us!

Regardless of who baked a macaron first, this simple cookie gained fame in France in 1792 when two nuns baked and sold macarons to support themselves. Suddenly the French couldn’t get enough of these delightful cookies, and street vendors popped up in Paris to meet the increasing demand. But it was only at the beginning of the 20th century that the macaron took on its modern appearnce, when the cousin of Louis Ernest Laduree (of the famous Laduree pastry and salon de the in Paris) had the inspired idea to put two cookies together, with a chocolate ganache filling in the middle.

So the question is, when did macaroons arrive on the scene? Depending on the baking history you read, some will say that coconut was added to the macaron recipe in Europe, becoming particularly popular with European Jews as a Passover food since the recipe doesn’t call for flour, and diverging into a different kind of cookie altogether. Another theory points to Scotland as the origin of the coconut macaroon. And yet another baking tradition describes the coconut macaroon as a thoroughly American cookie, created in the late 1800s when the exotic coconut arrived in America from India. It became trendy to include coconut in desserts, from coconut cream pie to custard, and it’s thought that around this time, coconut went into macarons, replacing the traditional almond paste.

Macaron: Think artisanal, dainty, and charming! Macarons are the most elegant sandwich cookie you will ever meet, a delicate meringue that comes in a variety of creative flavors with decadent fillings like high quality chocolate, ganache, and buttercream. Beloved by the French, especially in Paris, macarons have become trendy to serve, popping up at brunches, bridal showers, and wedding dessert tables. And they make a delightful morning treat with a cup of tea!

Made with egg whites, powdered sugar, sugar, and almond flour, macarons require more pastry chef finesse to make than most cookie recipes. There is even a special word (macaronage) for folding the dry ingredients in with the egg whites because it’s such a difficult craft to master! Achieving the perfect texture, domed tops and the crinkled ruffle (called a foot in baking terms) can be difficult if any little element is off in this complicated recipe. Even if you’re an experienced baker and follow a recipe down to the letter, don’t be disappointed if it takes you a few batches to get it right.

Macaroon: Think homemade, chewy, and coconutty goodness! Our love for coconut macaroons is tinged with sweet nostalgia: they are the cookies we think of our moms making at home, whipping up a batch on a whim because they come together in a jiffy. These delightfully sweet confections are known for their golden crisp outside and chewy soft inside.

Made with egg whites, shredded coconut, and sugar, the recipe could not be simpler. They take about ten minutes to prepare and you don’t need a pastry course to achieve the sweet toasted crunch and pillowy center. Since they don’t require the precision and science that macarons do, macaroons are a more approachable, friendly cookie. While they don’t come in all the dazzling varieties as macarons, you can dip them in chocolate, and get creative with baking something in the center (again, might we suggest chocolate?) 

Wondering which cookie you prefer? Why not get baking with some of the cute baking essentials in our kitchen collection to try them both! Measure your ingredients out with cute measuring spoons, mix them up in colorful bowls, and then store them safely in a darling canister to keep them fresh! Be sure to take a peek at our darling kitchen collection for cute baking accessories and even this cute book dedicated to the macaron! And for a deliciously unique recipe, follow us to The Perfect Little Cookie recipe!


Comments (18)
  • Very interesting and cute! Here in France we do prefer Macarons!!!

    Posted on September 3, 2013

  • Am I the only person who is completely underwhelmed by macarons? I've tried them from three different bakeries, and they just taste like sugary cardboard to me. Give me a nice coconutty macaroon any day! :-)

    Posted on September 4, 2013

  • emily, that is completely normal, the macarons do have one big problem and that is they are difficult to make in the right way. Unfortunately most bakeries even in france will not be able to do them correctly, i can't even imagine the result in another country, not that i don't think other countries have good bakeries, but once you have traveled a bit you realize they actually don't so in some places they are just awful, so i tend to stick with the same brands, pierre hermé and la durée... in paris these two brands fight to get the best macaron and well, i have to say they are both good, they taste like a piece of heaven...they are not cheap ok 2 euro a macaron is not cheap but they are worth it, did you know that to make a macaron at pierre herme there is 5 days of work in it?

    Posted on September 4, 2013

  • so many confuse the two! it wasn't until recently that i figured out the difference in the names. most people call macarons - macaroons and it's so annoying when i try to explain to them that it's the coconut cookie im talking about! macarons look oh so pretty but they are not that great. but maybe i do have to find a bakery that makes them perfect. until then, i'll stick to macaroons! we could make them just as pretty though, as the article here mentions. that would be a great idea!

    Posted on September 4, 2013

  • ;)

    Posted on September 4, 2013

  • Funny because in French we call the Macaroons, "Rochers" because they look like rocks!

    Great post and cute drawings.

    Posted on September 6, 2013

  • I first had a macaron in France and fell in love with them. Haven't tried to make them yet though.

    Posted on September 22, 2013

  • My niece and I made espresso and chocolate mint macarons this weekend and they turned out great! We really surprised ourselves. They looked just like the Martha Stewart pictures!

    Posted on March 24, 2014

  • My family loves Macaroons, but I can't stand coconut, I've always wanted to try a Macaron, but I can't really bake and they're so expensive!

    Posted on July 5, 2014

  • […] PS For those of you wondering, what IS a macaron? And isn’t it called a macaroon? Well, actually no. Macarons are the domed beauties pictured here, elegant meringue sandwiches made of almond flower, sugar and egg whites perfected at Ladurée in Paris. Lots of people call them macaroons in English speaking countries, but in fact, a macaroon is a whole other species, a golden, chewy, coconut cookie that’s also delish if not quite as seductively pretty. Read all about the history and differences here. […]

    Posted on October 25, 2014

  • […] reference […]

    Posted on February 12, 2015

  • […] – Don’t know your macarons from your macaroons? Mon dieu! This handy article explains the […]

    Posted on April 13, 2015

  • […] (As a side point, did you know macarons and macaroons are different things? I didn’t until recently. There’s a beautiful blog post about the differences here.) […]

    Posted on April 17, 2015

  • […] If you’d like to read an article about the origin of both of these delightful cookies, CLICK HERE. […]

    Posted on May 19, 2015

  • […] a few macarons (not macaroons as commonly reffered to, check out the difference between the two in this article) on the way out and went to a local coffeeshop to take some pictures for the bliggity-blog […]

    Posted on July 2, 2015

  • […] Macarons vs. Macaroons: Cookie Confusion ( […]

    Posted on August 19, 2015

  • […] familiar ball of coconut that is sometimes dipped in chocolate. The former on the other hand is a meringue-based cookie and much more difficult to make, it’s practically an […]

    Posted on February 11, 2016

  • […] cookie of the moment — dainty, colorful macarons which are absolutely everywhere now. (See here to set you straight on the difference between macaroons and […]

    Posted on October 14, 2016