A macaroon (macaron in French) is a small cake made predominantly from ground almonds. The name comes from an Italian word, referring to the method of turning the almonds into a paste. In France, they have developed the style to those delicious little sandwiches in wonderful flavours, and they are now conquering the world with their sugary yumminess. The French have only one word for almond-based cakes – they call them all macarons. To use the word macaron as an English speaker is completely unnecessary – we have a perfectly functional word to describe the item, and it’s a direct translation from the French word.
In all honesty, it seems a little silly to use foreign phrases when our own will do. Except for in the title of this blog post, of course. We don’t shun the word cheese in favour of fromage, simply because we are eating Roquefort. Unfortunately, it has become so widespread (oh, Wikipedia) that a lot of people do not even know that macaron and macaroon mean the exact same thing, but I’d bet money that it originated with the sort of people who say things like “au contraire” a lot.