Homemade Sno Balls

These homemade sno balls are our take on Hostess Sno Balls and are made with chocolate cake, a meringue filling and frosting, and fuzzy pink coconut. They taste almost like the real deal–but are way better for you–and are perfect for any occasion but are especially well-suited to birthday parties, spring, showers, and Easter.

A pink homemade sno ball--coconut-covered dome--on a white plate with two more in the back

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. Originally published February 15, 2004.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.

Homemade Sno Balls

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 40 M
  • 1 H
  • Makes 6 marvelously pink cakes
5/5 - 1 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the  cookbook

Want it? Click it.

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


Ingredients sent!

Send Grocery List

Email the grocery list for this recipe to:

Is required
Sign me up for your or newsletter, too!
Is required
  • For the cake
  • For the filling and frosting


Make the cakes

Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter and flour the molds.

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.

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

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 registers 235°F to 240°F (112°C to 115°C) on a candy thermometer, about 3 minutes. This is known as the soft-ball stage.

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 3 drops red food coloring to the remaining meringue in the bowl of the stand mixer and mix until combined.

Place the coconut in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add 3 drops food coloring, and pulse 15 times. Turn the coconut into a large bowl.

Assemble the sno balls

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.

Print RecipeBuy the  cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Recipe Testers Reviews

This was hands down delicious. All three components—cake, filling, and frosting—are good on their own and together. Each component isn't difficult to make. And everything comes together very quickly. This is a really long, detailed recipe. It's definitely a weekend project if you want to eat the cupcakes fresh, but you can also make parts of the recipe ahead, which would cut down on the feeling of how long it takes. The cupcakes were so tender that they seemed to squish a little when I started taking them out of the molds. So I left some cupcakes in the molds until they were mostly cooled. This worked better than removing immediately. I honestly loved the filling so much that I'd like to see more of it in the cupcake. You could get more coconut flavor by adding coconut flavoring along with the vanilla. You could also cut down some of the work by taking regular pastry cream and adding coconut flavoring. You can speed up the process for the pastry cream by placing a piece of plastic wrap into a half sheet pan, spreading the pastry cream into a thin layer, and the placing another piece of plastic wrap on top, then place it in the fridge and the cooling time should be cut in half. You can definitely make the pastry cream a few days in advance. You could easily make the cupcakes the day ahead and refrigerate them. In place of using a pastry bag and tip to fill, you could use a knife, cut a small hole in a cone like shape into the the cupcake, remove the round, fill, and replace.


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


    1. Arlene, I guess the stuff that Hostess puts in theirs would do the trick. Alas, we know of no such way to make these homemade versions last that long. Usually with made-from-scratch cake you can freeze it, unfrosted, and then thaw it overnight at room temperature before frosting. But due to the shape of these, they may take up more freezer space than you’re willing to dedicate to the cause.

  1. Nope. Real snoballs do not have a meringue filling, nor do they have a meringue coating. Should be cream filling (shortening or butter plus sugar; no egg whites) and marshmallow (NOT marshmallow creme) coating. Wish sites would stop wasting my time with misleading titles.

    1. JenP, I’m sorry that you felt mislead. Perhaps calling it a “copycat recipe” is wrong, and I’ll fix that now. I will say “inspired” by the real deal. And thanks for bringing it to my attention, because I pulled up the ingredients list of the real snoballs, and I kinda like ours better.

      INGREDIENTS: sugar, water, corn syrup, enriched bleached wheat flour [flour, reduced iron, b vitamins (niacin, thiamine mononitrate (b1), riboflavin (b2), folic acid)], coconut (sulfite treated), high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean, cottonseed and/or canola oil, beef fat), mono and diglycerides, polysorbate 60, soy lecithin. contains 2% or less of: cocoa, palm oil, soybean oil, glycerine, sugar, cornstarch, pork gelatin, modified corn starch, glucose, cocoa (processed with alkali), baking soda, salt, whey, leavenings (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, cornstarch, and monocalcium phosphate), whole eggs, sugar, dextrose, wheat flour, enzymes, xanthan gum, cellulose gum, natural and artificial flavor. coatings contain: blue (fd&c blue 1 lake); green (yellow 5 lake, blue 1 lake); lavender (blue 2 lake, carmine, red 40 lake); orange (yellow 6 lake); pink (carmine, red 40 lake); teal (blue 1 lake, yellow 5 lake); yellow (yellow 5 lake).

  2. This sounds fantastic and I want to try. Before I do, I would love to know; is it possible to store these for a couple days, or do they really need to be eaten immediately? If they can store, I’m assuming it’d be on the counter (well covered). Is that correct?


    1. Rebecca, you can make the cake domes ahead of time. But they should be filled in frosted the day you’re going to serve them. The frosting Is the fragile element.

      1. Agreed! I’ve made them since I posted and I see what you’re saying. The frosting really is the fragile part. That said, there were a couple sno-balls left the next day and they still tasted awesome after being stored in the fridge, loosely covered, overnight. The coconut and rich flavor of the cake went far to mask any second-day meringue frosting texture change. My family DID NOT notice at all and I kept my mouth shut.

        Seven homemade pink sno-balls, like Hostess Sno-balls, covered in meringue and pink coconut on a blue and white tray

  3. Snowballs are a genuine favorite of my husband’s, and I do occasionally see them in the grocery store and buy him a package or two. Now I wonder if they must be a knock-off, as everyone is saying that’s there’s no more Hostess I will definitely be on the lookout. And I will make these but not in the very near future as I’ve already gone up a size thank you very much Leite’s Culinaria, best chocolate chip cookies ever, best chocolate cake ever, best orange cake, and many delicious meals.

    1. Lorna, I think Hostess was saved and reopened a while back–which is why you’re seeing the treats. And regarding weight…um, well, you know: Just doing my job, ma’am!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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!

  8. 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. ;)

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

  9. 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.

    1. Kim Bee, I hope your test goes well. And I’m so happy your husband is starting a new job. A small miracle in a horrible economy. As to the sno balls, you can get the domed pan here. Do drop back in and tell me how they turned out.

  10. 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!

    1. 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.

  11. 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.

    1. 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. 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?)

    1. 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….

  13. 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…

  14. 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!

  15. 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

  16. 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!

  17. 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,


    1. 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.

  18. 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!

    1. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

    1. 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.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Rate this recipe!

Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think.

Upload a picture of your dish