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 sno balls in the back.

It took some tinkering before these sno balls 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 crème 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

Sno Balls FAQs

I don’t have a domed cupcake pan. Is there anything else I can use?

Sure. A regular cupcake pan with six wells will do the trick. Just make sure the swirl the frosting to make a dome shape.

How long will these sno balls last?

Because the filling and frosting are Italian meringue, the sno balls will last up to 2 days light covered in the fridge. But we bet they won’t last that long.

Homemade Sno Balls

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

Prep 30 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 1 hr
Dessert
American
6 sno balls
642 kcal
5 from 1 vote
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Equipment

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

Ingredients 

For the cake

  • 1 stick 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

  • 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.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1sno ballCalories: 642kcal (32%)Carbohydrates: 91g (30%)Protein: 8g (16%)Fat: 31g (48%)Saturated Fat: 21g (131%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 108mg (36%)Sodium: 330mg (14%)Potassium: 325mg (9%)Fiber: 4g (17%)Sugar: 73g (81%)Vitamin A: 616IU (12%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 56mg (6%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

These homemade sno balls were 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 snow ball cakes 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 easily make the sno ball cakes 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 sno balls, remove the round, fill, and replace.

Originally published April 13, 2018

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Comments

  1. 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?

  2. 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. Sno balls 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.

  3. When I heard Hostess was closing shop, the first thing I thought of was “There go my Sno balls, 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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….

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