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.
Most recipes call for egg whites (usually whipped to stiff peaks), with ground or powdered nuts, generally almond or coconut. Almost all call for sugar. Macaroons are commonly baked on edible rice paper placed on a baking tray.