The Coconut Macaroon at Salty Tart

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Recently, we finished up a meandering Global Market lunch with a stop at Salty Tart for sweets. While we filled our white paper bag lemon cake, a puff pastry, and a brownie, a gluten-free dining companion purchased one flourless chocolate cupcake and a cup of coffee. We could have let this self-restraint stand had there not been another, more appealing option (something we wanted ourselves but resisted for fear of appearing gluttonous): “You MUST try a coconut macaroon — they’re gluten free!”

When applied to baked goods, “gluten-free” is not always an adjective that recommends itself to wheat eaters, but whether you’re celiac or not, these coconut macaroons had much to offer in the way of toasty, chewy, dense, and tender. As the dining companion said, tucking one away, “It’s not an oily haystack, it’s not too sweet, it’s really just perfect.”

We wanted to eat more of them — a whole lot more of them. We wanted the recipe.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

When we called up chef Michelle Gayer to ask her where the coconut macaroons came from and how they ended up in her pastry case, she initially seemed mystified and talked about them like a stray cat that wandered into the shop, bringing with it a loyal following of its own. “It just happened. I’ve been making the macaroon since Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago. It followed me to the Franklin Street Bakery, and then it followed me here, and now it’s really become its own thing,” she said. “If you would have told me, back then, that this would be the thing that people would love, I wouldn’t have believed it — but of course, I love it.”

At the State Fair last year, Gayer sold 8,000 coconut macaroons. On an average day at the bakery, she’ll sell 100 of them — and if the Food Network airs the episode of “The Best Thing I ever Ate” in which Andrew Zimmern declares them the “world’s best macaroon,” sales will soar to 200 a day. “They have a broad appeal,” she said. “They work for the gluten-free customer, the fat-free customer, the chewy customer, and the crunchy-outside-soft-in-the-middle customer.”

Yes, they’re all that. And so we resumed our wheedling — not for ourselves, of course, but for our long-suffering gluten-intolerant friend, who deserves delicious sweets — but always the pastry chef politely demurred.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

THE HEAVY TABLE: So was it a family recipe or something you developed on your own?

MICHELLE GAYER: I don’t remember. It has been so long; over 10 years. It’s not a family recipe, but I’m sure I tweaked it. You know, we use vanilla bean and hand roll them.

HT: They are so rich. If there’s no flour, what makes them so dense — what’s the binder?

MG: Lots of coconut? There’s about six pounds of coconut in the recipe.

HT: And what else? Coconut and …

MG: I think I’m not willing to talk about it. Right? When someone says, ‘That’s the best thing I ever ate!’ people call for the recipe. At this point, I don’t think I’m even willing to talk about the ingredients, and I never thought I’d say that!

HT: Okay, okay, we understand. After all, it’s really taking off.

MG: It’s a thing, it has a life of its own. They have their own nickname — we call them crackaroons — and they have their own special coconut, size and selection.

HT: Aha, special coconut! But you’re probably not willing to tell me about that either?

MG: Naw.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table


  1. Lisa

    I came on this site cause I saw the coconut macaroons on Food Network, so I googled it and this site came up. It also said to click on the link for the recipient how ever when you click on the link I was disappointed to find there was no recipie. It was just a way to show you how you can order the macaroons :(
    it was very disappointing.

  2. Joan Mazza

    I really like to get the recipe for Salty Tart’s coconut macaroons. If possible, please send me the recipe Thank you for your trouble.

  3. Alice Wernimont

    I’m okay with you keeping your recipe to yourself–I bake amazing gluten-free items and you just need to keep some things your own. Can you tell me though, for my gluten- and dairy- sensitive daughter’s sake, if there is any dairy in your crackaroons? I’d love to let her experience that bite of heaven!

  4. Todd

    I’ll break her silence. While I love her macaroons. they don’t need to be a national secret…settle down Ms. Gayer your attempts at being all stealthy and secretive with your recipe is just a little too uppity.

    Franklin Street Bakery Coconut Macaroons

    1-1/4 cup water

    4 cups sugar

    1/2 cup tapioca syrup

    1 tsp salt

    6 2/3 cups unsweetened, dessicated coconut

    3 egg whites

    1 oz. cream cheese

    vanilla bean (cut in half)

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring the water, sugar, corn syrup and salt to a boil. Pour the hot liquid over the coconut in a medium mixing bowl on low speed until cool. Add the egg whites and cream cheese and vanilla bean to the mixture and mix well. Scoop into balls and bake for 10-15min or until golden brown.

  5. Ally

    For those of you desperate to experience the fluffy coconutty goodness of these macaroons, don’t, I repeat, DO NOT use the recipe posted in the comments of this article! Talk about a slimy soupy mess! Money and lots of coconut and vanilla bean in the trash… :(

  6. Kathy

    so where is the recipe? I am annoyed after watching foodnetwork and trying to find the recipe.

  7. Pamela

    Coconut Macaroons

    Makes 2 to 3 dozen.

    Note: Unsweetened, desiccated coconut -smaller, finer and drier than fluffy, sweetened coconut ù is available at many natural food stores, including the Wedge Co-op in Minneapolis. At the Franklin Street Bakery, Michelle Gayer-Nicholson scoops dough onto baking sheets and, using her fingers, forms macaroons into pyramid shapes.

    • 6 2/3 c. unsweetened, desiccated coconut (see Note)

    • 1 1/4 c. water

    • 4 c. sugar

    • 1/2 c. light corn syrup

    • 1 tsp. salt

    • 3 egg whites

    • 1 oz. cream cheese

    • Vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise

    Franklin Strret Bakery Coconut Macaroons

    This is from am article from 2004, make sure you use coconut specified, even though recipe is tbe same as posted before it’s all about the technique

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place coconut in bowl of electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and set aside.

    In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine water, sugar, corn syrup and salt and bring mixture to a boil. Pour hot liquid over coconut and mix on medium speed until cool, about 5 minutes. Add egg whites, cream cheese and vanilla bean and mix another 5 minutes. Remove vanilla bean and refrigerate dough at least 30 minutes. Scoop dough into balls and bake on parchment-paper-lined baking sheets for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown, rotating baking sheet once during baking. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet until ready to serve. Store in a single layer in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

  8. Catriona

    Not a nice comment Todd!
    She was being polite while somebody was pressuring her to give away a profitable cookie recipe. She’s the one who was working at her craft for a long time to get a perfect recipe as baking is her career. It is like you giving away your hard work on your job for free. It is amazing that people do not understand that those who bake or cook for a living are working just as hard on their career as anyone else.
    She was not being ” uppity” as you say, but politely deferring the continuous questioning Susan, which was a bit rude on her part.

    It is a beautiful bakery with wonderful treats and baked goods. Continued success!

  9. Suzette

    I love the macaroons at Salty Tart and have been wanting to ask if one of the ingredients is corn syrup. I have a terrible reaction to corn syrup, suffering with a sharp headache when I eat more than one macaroon at a time. Knowing there is corn syrup included (I kinda knew but was hoping it was never confirmed), I will have to give them up. Salty Tart has soooo many other excellent options though. Everything they do is A+.

  10. Kristen Davis

    I am a freak for anything coconut, so when I saw’s “Best Thing I ever Ate” with Andrew…I got on the website and just kept “rewinding” the video over and over and over again, writing down each ingredient, until I was able to duplicate her recipe.

    Yes…it took some doing…a little change here and there until I got it perfected. The first time I made them and took them down to my folks house, my Dad could not stop eating them!!

    Even my sister who is not a coconut fan, kept going back for more. She even requested them for her birthday gift this year (which is tomorrow. She turns 60!).
    What makes them so heavenly is the fact that they are not dry inside but moist and chewy. I am positive this is due to the corn (or tapioca) syrup and the CREAM CHEESE.

    This is definitely NOT your typical condensed milk recipe! (Not that there’s anything wrong with that recipe) These take a little more time but they are definitely worth the effort.
    Well…I need to go into the kitchen and mix the recipe so I can make them tonight.
    Watch the video a few times and you will be able to duplicate it too!

  11. Charlie

    Kristen, Why can’t you share the recipe so others don’t have to waste ingredients and time doing it over & over until it is correct?

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