Homemade Sno Balls

[Editor's Note: Leite's Culinaria is saddened by the news that thousands of Hostess employees will soon find themselves without work. Our gratitude goes out to all who contributed to establishing such a legacy of sugary snacks.]

It took some tinkering before these snowballs domes of fuzzy Day-Glo pinkness became the Marilyn Monroe of the snack rack. Hostess Sno Balls were originally chocolate cupcakes covered with ho-hum white marshmallow and shredded coconut, hence the name. But not long after, Hostess decided to jazz them up by tinting the shreds of coconut feather boa pink. It wasn’t until 1950 that the icing on the cake, so to speak—that is the cream filling as well as frosting— was added.

Although Sno Balls still turn heads after all these years, I’ve given them a face-lift using a richer, moister, more sophisticated cake made from Dutch-processed cocoa that’s slathered with an ethereally light Italian meringue.–David Leite

LC Not Even Counting Note

Whatever you tend to watch—whether calories or WW points or your digits on the scale—just don’t even go there with this one. The pleasure is so much richer, so much less fraught with guilt when you’re not even counting.

Special Equipment: Domed cupcake pan with six 1/2-cup molds (each 3 1/2 inches in diameter by 1 1/2 inches deep)

Homemade Sno Balls Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 1 H
  • Makes 6 marvelously pink cakes

Ingredients

  • For the cake
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the molds
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the molds
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon powdered instant coffee dissolved in 2/3 cup boiling water
  • For the filling and frosting
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, preferably Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut
  • 6 drops red food coloring

Directions

  • Make the cakes
  • 1. Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter and flour the molds.
  • 2. Beat the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. Add the egg and then the yolk to the butter and sugar mixture, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the sour cream and chocolate extract, if using, and mix until combined. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the instant coffee mixture in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
  • 3. Divide the batter evenly among the molds, filling them almost to the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Set the molds on a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Run the tip of a knife around the rim of each cake and lift out. Place the cakes on the wire rack to cool completely.
  • Make the filling and frosting
  • 4. While the cakes cool, in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage or registers 235°F to 240°F (112°C to 115°C) on a candy thermometer, about 3 minutes.
  • 5. Meanwhile, using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until frothy. Add the salt and beat until the whites are glossy and hold soft peaks. When the syrup is at the desired temperature, carefully pour it in a very thin stream down the side of the bowl into the egg whites with the beater still on high speed. Continue to beat until the mixture cools, 8 to 10 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Scoop out and reserve about 3/4 cup of the meringue. Add three drops of the red food coloring to the remaining meringue in the bowl of the stand mixer and mix until combined.
  • 6. Place the coconut in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add three drops of food coloring, and pulse 15 times. Turn the coconut into a large bowl.
  • Assemble the sno balls
  • 7. Using a serrated knife, carefully slice off the top third of each cake, keeping each top alongside its cake. Pinch about a tablespoon and a half of cake from the inside center of each cake and set aside for nibbling. Fill the hole with a dollop of the reserved white meringue and replace the top. Thickly frost the top of the cakes with the pink meringue. Then generously sprinkle each cake with coconut until completely covered. Tamp down gently on the coconut to maintain the domed shape. Serve at once.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Comments
Comments
  1. Pat says:

    OMG, Haven’t thought about Sno Balls in ages. Whatever happened with them? Oh well, guess it doesn’t matter, you have gone and made something that has got to be better tasting even though it may not be any better for me. Thank you so much! These Sno Balls will be great for a family gathering, as there will be more people to help devour them.

    • David Leite says:

      Pat, Sno Balls are definitely around. They’re at my local bodega in NYC and at our general store in Roxbury, CT. But the ones in this article are far richer, creamier, and fresher tasting—if I do say so myself.

  2. Judy says:

    These look wonderful, but where did you find the domed cupcake pan? Perhaps you should add it to your store, or at least a link to the source.
    Judy

  3. Valerie says:

    I have to make these! My children will love them. I’m in Middlebury, CT…not far from Roxbury!

  4. Pamela says:

    OK… day late and a dollar short here, but found this from today’s post. These look fabulous! I remember their exact location in our 50′s grocery store, lusting after them in their *come hither* cellophane package (and come to think of it.. .rather racy *pairing* of two voluptuous pink mounds!).

    It also brought back the 50s memory of the Christmas-time vanilla ice cream balls, rolled in coconut, with a single red candle, w/ piped holly leaves at the candle’s base. I do those now for Christmas dinner, and everyone still gets a kick out of them (as simple and culinarily uninteresting as they might seem). Maybe it has to do with the individuality… the primal interaction and control over one’s own fire? (This is beginning to sound like a David Leite article :-)) Or .. as simple as making one’s own wish for the Season.

    Anyway… thanks for the memories!

    • Dan Kraan, LC Community Moderator says:

      Aren’t flashbacks great, Pamela? Let us know what you think when you try David’s version. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

  5. Ann says:

    HI David,

    I am wondering if the recipe will work in one large bowl instead of individual cakes, without falling etc? I would like to make one giant sno ball for a party (special request for my husbands birthday)

    Thank you,

    Ann

    • David Leite says:

      Ann, I don’t know because I’ve never made it that way. The cooking times would be significantly different, and I’m not sure it would bake all the way through. I’d suggest making it in several cake pans, each a bit smaller then the previous, say a 10 inch, 8 inch, and 6 inch. Once they’ve baked and cooled, you can stack them, do a little sculpting to make it more dome-like, then frost it to give it that perfect Sno Ball shape.

  6. Page Stambaugh says:

    Learning that Hostess has filed bankruptcy made me remember these gems from childhood … loved them … so I thought I would search a recipe for fun. The cake ALONE sounds fabulous and I can’t wait to try it — thinking I might make an ice cream cake with chocolate mint ice cream with it … thanks!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Our pleasure, Page. And do let us know when you make them…with details on just how creative you decide to get!

    • David Leite says:

      Page, the cake is great. I love the idea of making it into an ice cream cake. Please let us know how it turns out and send me a picture and I’ll post it.

  7. Emma says:

    I love the internet! Today I was thinking about these sticky sweet cakes we used to get from the american px when passing through to austria. And now i found your recipe. Thank you so much and also that you used “normal” ingredients which are sold in every “normal” store in germany. I’ve got a question though… what kind of sugar did you use? Normal white, castor or confectioners?
    Greets from Germany
    Emma

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Greetings, Emma! Sooo pleased we could be of service in your time of need…as for sugar, we use standard granulated sugar, as noted in the recipe. I guess that’s “normal white” in German!

  8. Lisa says:

    These look and sounds amazingly delicious! Will have to try this week. I was wondering if they could be made in cupcake pans? Have you tried them in this particular pan? Thanks!

    • David Leite says:

      Hi Lisa, the domes are really just rounded cupcake pans. I think they could be made in cupcake tins, but the shape would be different.

  9. Bruna Andrade says:

    I finally found the recipe for that seemingly wonderful cake—-I say seemingly because I have never eaten that cake! I am Brazilian and live in Brazil where these sweets are not sold, nor are there recipes for it. One day I was eager to try these cakes and started looking for the recipe and finally found it! Thank you, thank you, guys. Now I will be able to prove to my friends what delights these American sweets are…

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Bruna, we’re thrilled to hear that we helped you find such a long sought-after recipe! Do let us know what you think of these bright pink cakes!

  10. Jamie says:

    Do you know that these were a childhood favorite and I still stare at them longingly every time I am in the US and in the grocery store. But haven’t eaten them for decades. I must try these at home now… Thanks for taking the time to develop this perfect recipe for all of us, David! (should I mention the hardships you must have gone through?)

    • David Leite says:

      Jamie, I hope you make these as they won’t be manufactured anymore. Hostess is going out of business. So sad. And, yes, the toil and pain I went through developing these. Do you know what it’s like to eat sno ball after sno ball to find just the right recipe. Torture….

  11. Rick Casner says:

    Genius takes many forms…. For the past year I’ve been experimenting with your Portuguese cookbook and thinking “Geez, this guy is really something, taking on a whole country…”. Now this and I can’t help but wonder if this signals some kind of shift…. In any event, good fun.

    • David Leite says:

      Rick, thank you. (I think!) A shift? Not sure. I go where my gut takes me. I love all kinds of food and go through periods in which I become obsessed and have to exhaust my curiosity. But I think you do the same thing in your writing, no?

  12. Susan says:

    When I heard Hostess was closing shop, the first thing I thought of was “There go my Snoballs, as well.” I haven’t had one since I was a kid (they kind of gross me out, now) but they were a prized treat back then. I’d gently loosen the marshmallow topping and pick the cake and filling out first and eat it, then eat that rubbery, coconutty topping like it was a soft taffy. What a delicious, sticky-fingered mess!

    • David Leite says:

      Susan, that’s what I’m sad about: the loss of something from my childhood. I haven’t had a Sno Ball or Twinkie in years, but they represent afternoon runs to Moniz’s Variety Store on Buffington St., when penny candy was indeed a penny.

  13. Kim Bee says:

    David this just about did me in. I’m fasting for a test right now and I swear I almost passed out upon seeing these. Snowballs are hard to come by in Canada, or least the part I live in. I adore them, total coconut nut. I am going in search of the proper pan then making these immediately.

    I feel for the workers right now. My hubs was affected by the auto industry. After it tanked he went back to school to get his degree in engineering. He starts his new job Monday. I have this premonition the first paycheck is going to spent at the chef supply store. I haven’t really shopped in about 5 years. My kitchen supplies need some updating.

  14. ruthie says:

    Isn’t it amazing? I couldn’t believe it when I went searching for a Hostess Cupcake and couldn’t find them. Then Twinkies. Snowballs. Then I Googled and discovered to my horror that they were no more. Like many of the commenters, I haven’t eaten any of this stuff since I was a kid, but it was good to know I could if I wanted to. Sigh.

    Thanks for the chance to recreate (and improve) the Snowballs. I’ll try this out and pretend I’m a kid again. Er…or still. That’s closer to the truth. ;)

    • Beth Price says:

      I’ve heard rumblings that Twinkies will be back on the shelves in mid July, Ruthie- perhaps Sno Balls are next?

  15. ruthie says:

    Well, you know, Safeway seems to have rushed in to fill the void, so to speak. ;) They have Twinkie- and Hostess Cupcake-looking things. Not called by those names, but otherwise identical. I read that the different products were up for grabs, though, so maybe the real thing will be back, just not “Hostess” I guess.

    Actually, I never liked Twinkies. My mom says my first taste as a little kid, I spit it out. They were little grease and sugar sponges. Ick. But the Snowballs had some redeeming values, she says with a straight face. LOL!

  16. Martha in KS says:

    Thanks to all who are here in support of Breast Cancer Awareness & The Tutu Project! Please come back often throughout October.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      What a lovely sentiment, Martha in KS. We couldn’t have said it any lovelier. Thank you.

  17. Dede says:

    I used to love these and part of the fascination was how the covering (aka frosting) peeled away from the cake! LOL…..as an adult I will forgo that for better flavor any day! Thanks for posting this, David.

  18. Kim W. says:

    Love it! <3

  19. Wendy says:

    For myself, my aunt, my 2 cousins and 4 great aunts – thank you!

  20. ruthie says:

    For my mom, who was an obsessive checker. She found the lump when it was barely the size of a BB, had a lumpectomy and radiation and no recurrence. She lived to be 93.

    Do your checks! And thanks for this, David.

    • David Leite says:

      ruthie, long live the obsessive checkers! (Literally.) And may others be as obsessive as your nonagenarian mom.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Send it along. Covet one of those spiffy pictures of yourself to go along with your comment? Get a free Gravatar. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

*

Daily Subscription

Enter your email address and get all of our updates sent to your inbox the moment they're posted. Be the first on your block to be in the know.

Preview daily e-mail

Weekly Subscription

Hate tons of emails? Do you prefer info delivered in a neat, easy-to-digest (pun intended) form? Then enter your email address for our weekly newsletter.

Preview weekly e-mail