A macaroon is a type of light, baked confection, described as either small cakes or meringue-like cookiesdepending on their consistency. The original macaroon was a "small sweet cake consisting largely of ground almonds" similar to Italian or Moroccan amaretti.
The English word macaroon and French macaron come from the Italian maccarone or maccherone. This word is itself derived fromammaccare, meaning crush or beat, used here in reference to the almond paste which is the principal ingredient.
Most recipes call for egg whites (usually whipped to stiff peaks), with ground or powdered nuts, generally almonds. Alternatively, coconuts can be used. Almost all call for sugar. Macaroons are sometimes baked on edible rice paper placed on a baking tray.