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. OK… day late and a dollar short here, but found this from today’s post. These sno balls 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.

  2. 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. 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.

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