Mad Mac Macaroons
Mad Mac Macarons, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, are one of our favorite gifts Photo by Claire Freierman, THE NIBBLE.




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July 2010

Last Updated February 2013

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Cookies, Cakes & Pastry

Cookie Variety Glossary

Page 6: Macaroon, Madeleine & Other Cookie Types Beginning With M



This page contains of our cookie variety glossary features cookie types beginning with the letters M, including macaroon, madeleine, meringue and meltaway. See our many other informative food glossaries—especially the Cake Glossary and Pastry Glossary. There are thousands of different cookies in the world; this glossary’s objective is to highlight those found in the U.S. Please use the Contact Us link to report any missing entries.

Click on a letter to go to the appropriate glossary section.

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There are several varieties of macaroon: the original almond macaroon, the coconut macaroon and the French meringue sandwich, or macaron. Some people insist that “macaron” is the meringue-like French cookie sandwich and “macaroon” is the coconut variety; however, the English translation of “macaron” is “macaroon,” so the argument will have to rest. Some culinary historians claim that that macaroons can be traced to an Italian monastery. The first macaroons were almond meringue cookies similar to today’s amaretti, with a crisp crust and a soft interior. They were made from egg whites and almond paste).

French macarons from L.A. Burdick are meringue sandwich cookies.

The name of the cookie comes from the Italian word for paste, maccarone (the same base as the word for pasta and dumplings, and the English “macaroni”). Maccarone came to France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henri II. Two Benedictine nuns, Sister Marguerite and Sister Marie-Elisabeth, seeking asylum in the town of Nancy during the French Revolution (1789-1799), paid for their housing by baking and selling the macaroon cookies, and thus became known as the “Macaroon Sisters” (les Soeurs Macaron). See the history of the macaroon.


A sponge cake-like cookie baked in a special pan that produces elongated shell shapes. While madeleines are technically cake, the small size enables them to be served with cookies. This French delight is named for Mary Magdalen (the French name for Magdalen is Madeleine). Legend has it that the recipe originated with nuns from a convent once dedicated to her; nuns traditionally raised money by baking and selling sweets. Many people liken the madeleine to pound cake, although it is actually a dense sponge cake (génoise). Madeleines are easy to bake, requiring only a special madeleine pan with shell shaped depressions. Here’s a madeleine recipe made with a touch of orange liqueur.

Madeleines, fresh from the pan. Photo courtesy California Milk Advisory Board.


Mallows are marshmallow cookies; the classic Mallomar from Nabisco is a chocolate-covered marshmallow cookie. The marshmallow is set on a shortbread base or other cookie base; the unit is then covered with chocolate. A layer of caramel can be added between the marshmallow and the cookie.

  Marshmallow Cookie
Pink sprinkle marshmallow cookie. Photo by Jonathan Ruchti | SXC.


Mandelbrot, Yiddish for almond bread, is a relative of the British rusk, the Italian biscotto and the Ukrainian kamishbrot—all hard dunking cookies sliced from a loaf. It is believed that Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe brought biscotti back from Italy (it was originally made in Roman times as durable food to take on journeys). The Jews added oil to the fat-free biscotti to make the dough easier to work with and not as hard. (In biscotti, only the eggs bind the dough, and the lack of fat extends the shelf life.) Sometimes the cookies were dipped in chocolate (our favorite!).

Mandelbrot from


Mantecaditos are a almond butter cookies that are traditional Puerto Rican Christmas fare. They are flavored with almond and vanilla extracts and fresh-ground nutmeg, and decorated with a piece of maraschino cherry.

Mantecadito. Get the recipe from


Meringues are airy delights made of egg whites and sugar, baked at a low temperature until crisp. Some modern versions add mini chocolate chips or other flavor accents. According to Larousse Gastronomique, meringue was invented by a Swiss pastry chef named Gasparini, who lived in the small German town of Meiringen. Until the early 19th century, meringues cooked in the oven were shaped with a spoon. It was the great French chef Antoine Carême (1784– 1833) who first had the idea of piping meringue through a pastry bag.

Pink sprinkle marshmallow cookie. Photo by Jonathan Ruchti | SXC.


A meltaway is a butter cookie made with powdered sugar and also dusted with it, this small cookie does melt in your mouth. It is a classic “tea cake.” Mexican wedding cakes are examples of meltaways, as are butter balls and pecan balls.

  Meltaway Cookie
Key lime meltaway cookies. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.


A soft, round butter cookie made with powdered sugar, flour and minced walnuts, and flavored with vanilla. The warm cookies are coated in more powdered sugar. They melt in your mouth.

  Mexican Wedding Vake
Mexican wedding cake cookies melt in your mouth. Get the recipe from


Mignardises (min-yar-DEEZ), from the French for “preciousness,” belong  to the group of after-dinner cookies called petit fours (French for “small baked pastries”). Friandises (free-yon-DEEZ), from the French for “delicate,” are another interchangeable  term. Nonbaked confections such as glazed or chocolate-dipped fruit, marzipan and nut clusters, among others, are also added to the plate. See petit fours.

Mignardises. Photo courtesy


A chocolate-filled sandwich cookie; the “Milano” is trademarked by Pepperidge Farm so the style must be referred to a Milan cookie when created by anyone else. The Milano evolved from Pepperidge Farm’s Naples cookie, a single vanilla finger cookie with dark chocolate icing. In warmer climates and seasons, the stacked cookies would stick to each other. The problem was solved by sandwiching two Naples cookies together. The thin, finger-shaped butter cookies are made with powdered sugar and flavored with lemon and vanilla. Gael Gand has a recipe that you can find on the Food Network website.

  Milan Cookie
Put the chocolate inside and solve the sticking problem. Photo courtesy Pepperidge Farms.


A simple drop cookie, molasses cookies are sweetened with molasses and light brown sugar, and flavored with cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Depending on the recipe, they can be hard (like gingersnaps) or soft and chewy. Learn more about molasses in our Sugar & Syrup Glossary.

  Molasses Cookie
Molasses spice cookies from


One of the eight basic types of cookies, molded cookies are made from a stiffer dough that is molded into balls or other shapes (wreaths, for example, as shown in the photo) before baking. Almond crescents are an example of molded cookies.


This cookie is not called “monster” because of its size, but for its lumpy appearance (or perhaps the monster number of ingredients). Take the basic Toll House cookie recipe and add a jar of peanut butter, a half cup of M&Ms and 1/4 cup of raisins.

  Wreath Cookies
Molded wreath cookies from Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Recipe.


Moravian cookies deserve the title “wafer-thin”; they are the thinnest cookies to be had. They surfaced centuries ago in the kingdom of Moravia, located in what is now the Czech Republic. The dough is rolled to an almost-transparent thickness; the baked cookies are very fragile. The cookies are made in any number of flavors.


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Find Moravian cookies at Photo by Jaclyn Nussbaum | THE NIBBLE.


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