Are They Macarons or Macaroons?

Learn Three Key Differences Between the Two

A single extra letter in a word may change its meaning completely. 

But in the case of the macaron versus the macaroon, the extra “o” doesn’t make any difference. The original meaning of both words has remained the same since the time their distant ancestor was coined. And the legend tells us that it happened around the 17th century.

The thing is, these two words of the same origin and with the same literal meaning define two of the versions of a confectionery that has many variations all around the globe. The two versions we’re going to distinguish between are obviously the macaron and the macaroon.

macaron

So, which one are you going to choose at the bakery or coffee shop? 

This article will help you tell the clear difference between the two treats. Or, to be precise, three differences. And no one will ever dare correct you.

Let’s begin.

#1. The Names

They do matter. And they are different, despite the fact that they take their root from the same word – “maccherone.” It’s from the Italian language, and means “pasta.” 

If you’ve just thought of the word “macaroni,” don’t try to make it get out of your head. Because macaroni has the same root and original meaning as macaron and macaroon. 

It’s another story how macaroni became our favorite pasta, while macaron and macaroon became beautiful desserts. But what we now know for sure is that both macarons and macaroons originally come from Italy, and not from France.

The simple round meringue cookie, without any flavorings, gained popularity in France in the end of the 18th century. During the French Revolution, two Carmelite nuns started baking and selling such simplified versions of modern macarons and macaroons to pay for the housing. 

The macaron as we know it today – two colorful disks with a filling between them – was created in the 1930s and known as the “Paris macaron.” This very word, with one “o,” is believed to be borrowed by the English language around the 2010s, when macarons became popular in the United States. 

In French, there’s actually no “ooh” sound, like we have in “food,” for example. So, we should pronounce the word “macaron” with the “awn”, like in “awe,” in the end.

Then, what are macaroons, with the double “o”?

Macaroons once also were simple round meringue cookies sold by Carmelite nuns. But unlike sandwiched macarons, macaroons evolved into delicate mound-shaped cookies made with coconut, egg whites, and condensed milk, and sometimes dipped into chocolate. But this is mostly a US version, while the variations around the world are multiple.

Why are they still called “macaroons” in English? Well, history and linguistics can be so confusing that even scientists can’t provide a comprehensive answer.

All in all, if you want a colorful two-disk cookie with a flavorful filling, you want a macaron. 

If you want a coconut-y ball drizzled with chocolate, you want a macaroon. 

#2. The Techniques

While the names may remain perplexing, the differences in the cooking technique for macarons and macaroons are more distinct.

Although every baker has their own secret know-how, the basic ingredients and the way to turn them into the dessert are always the same.

First, let’s check in brief how macarons are made.

    1. The egg whites are beaten until they become stiff. 

    2. Then, granulated sugar and coloring are added and beaten together with the egg whites until the blend becomes glossy.

    3. Almond flour sifted together with confectioners sugar is gently folded. And the blend is manually mixed into a batter. 

    4. With the help of a piping bag, the batter is piped into rounds and baked until set.

    5. Then, a pair of crunchy disks is sandwiched together with a filling, like vanilla buttercream, raspberry jam, or orange ganache.

By the way, almond flour and filling make one of the key differences between the macaron and the macaroon.

Now, let’s look closer at the classic macaroon making technique.

    1. The egg whites are beaten until they become stiff. This step is the same. Though sometimes salt may be added.

    2. The beaten egg whites are then stirred with the mixture of coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla.

    3. The dollops of the blend are dropped onto a baking sheet and baked until set.

While the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla make the basic list of ingredients for macaroons, macarons may include them as fillings and flavorings, along with dozens of other options.

So, macarons are almond sandwich cookies with a layer of filling. And macaroons are coconut dollops that can be decorated with drizzles of chocolate, caramel, or jam.

#3. The  Textures

Because the techniques for making macarons and macaroons do differ, it’s expected that the look and feel of the two desserts is far from identical.

What is it for the macaron?

In macarons, the crunchy exterior is harmoniously combined with delicate chewy interior and moist tasteful filling. This is an ideal combo that’s yet so hard to create. It takes much experience and expertise. There are rumors that some fine bakeries feed “wrong” cookies to birds, because uneven and wrinkled macarons can’t be served to visitors.

On the other hand, making macaroons doesn’t take the expertise of a Michelin chef. A macaroon is a very soft and light coconut cookie that melts in the mouth pleasing the taste buds.

You can easily make macaroons at home for your dearest and nearest. Check the ingredients and directions above.

And if you’re looking for fresh sumptuous macarons, Marky’s is happy to offer you a few beautiful sets crafted according to the classic recipe. Visit our online store and choose the elegant dessert to spoil yourself and your dearest.