A macaroon is a type of light, baked confection, described as either small cakes or meringue-like cookies depending on their consistency. The original macaroon was a "small sweet cake consisting largely of ground almonds" similar to Italian amaretti.
The English word macaroon and French macaron come from the Italian maccarone or maccherone. This word is itself derived from ammaccare, meaning crush or beat, used here in reference to the almond paste which is the principal ingredient. Macaroons should not be confused with the French macaron.
Most recipes call for egg whites (usually whipped to stiff peaks), almonds, coconut, or nuts. Almost all call for sugar. Macaroons are sometimes baked on edible rice paper placed on a baking tray.