Larousse Gastronomique

Tongue Twister: Macaron or Macaroon?

Move over cupcake, with the US's import of Ladurée has come the indomitable rise of the macaron... or is that macaroon? Not that I mind of course, but I can't tell you how many people keep asking me why I am schlepping coconut macaroons back from the Upper East Side or why I insist on being such a francophile, insisting on my oh-so-French "macaron" pronunciation.

So, why don't we delve into this culinary confusion. Let's start with the important differences: the French macaron is the lovely sandwich-like pastry consisting of the two shells made of almond flour, sugar, and egg whites joined with different and delicious fillings such as ganache and fruit jam. The American macaroon, on the other hand, is the moist, chewy, cookie-like coconut treat, often dipped in chocolate.

Of course this sweet debate required a little bit of further investigation, beyond the taste-testing variety, that is. According to the English edition of Larousse Gastronomique , a macaroon is "a small, round, biscuit with a crunchy outside and soft inside, made with ground almonds, sugar and egg whites. Macaroons are sometimes flavoured with coffee, chocolate, nuts or fruit and then joined together in pairs." 

 So technically, using macaroon (for the French macaron) in an English context, is correct. However, my suggestion would be to specify that it is a French macaroon and not the coconut macaroon to aid those who are uninitiated with these culinary delights.

Going into the nitty-gritties in a little more detail, you may ask what the French call the American coconut macaroon America's. Well, that would be a congolais (literally "Congolese") in French, although it is also called "le rocher à la noix de coco," quite a mouthful.

Well, that's enough culinary etymology for now.

Bon Appétit!