Why This Recipe Works
- For that classic pink appearance, shredded coconut is tinted pink while being ground in a food processor, which gives it the authentic fine texture of the original.
- To achieve the proper shape, the filled and coated sno balls are are trimmed with a cookie cutter and more coconut is applied again.
If you've ever wanted to eat a Koosh Ball then you understand the appeal of Hostess Sno Balls. Who doesn't want a fluffy, jiggly, bouncy neon snack? Uh. Well. Maybe you don't. In which case, who wants chocolate cake?
We can all agree on chocolate cake.
On a technical level, Sno Balls are Hostess cupcakes turned upside down and coated in marshmallow, coconut, and dye. But that's a little like saying that Superman is just Clark Kent with a cape.
Underneath it all, yes, they may be the same. But the exterior of each dictates certain conventions or, in the case of the Sno Ball, confections. A Hostess Cupcake is solid, reliable, sweet, and a little dense, like Clark. But throw on a marshmallowy robe and that plain little chocolate cake transforms into something so much more...super.
Like Clark and Superman, the Sno Ball knows a thing or two about the power of disguise. Around St. Patrick's day, the Sno Ball goes green and masquerades as a Lucky Puff. For Easter, it's a violet Hopper and for Trick-or-Treat it becomes a Scary Cake.
Which is funny, because the Sno Ball is kind of a scary cake all year round. I don't want to be mean, but seriously, it belongs in the X-Files. Literally. Remember Scully's birthday and the sparkler-topped Sno Ball Mulder arranged for her?
Despite Hostess' past bankruptcy troubles and ensuing Twinkie panic, you can still pick up a two-pack of Sno Balls at the grocery. But, should a day come where they're no longer available and you find yourself in need of a birthday cake for the Scully in your life, I've got you covered.
Homemade Sno Balls Recipe
These classic individual chocolate cakes are enrobed in marshmallow and coconut.
2 ounces unsalted butter (see note)
5 ounces sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 ounces all-purpose flour, sifted
1 ounce cocoa powder, sifted
5 ounces buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For Marshmallow Coating:
1/2 ounce gelatin
10 ounces water, divided
7 ounces corn syrup
18 ounces sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For Cream Filling:
6 ounces heavy whipping cream
For Coconut Coating:
8 ounces unsweetened coconut flakes
Optional: food coloring
Make the chocolate cake: Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and have a cupcake pan, lightly greased, set aside (see note). With a hand or stand mixer, cream together butter, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add egg and mix another minute more until fully incorporated. With the mixer set to low, add in flour all at once, followed by the cocoa powder. Finally, drizzle in buttermilk and vanilla. Continue mixing only until homogenous. Divide batter evenly between the cupcake cups and bake for about 12 minutes, or until puffed and set. Set aside and cool for at least two hours before filling.
Make the marshmallow coating and filling: In a medium bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) combine gelatin with half the water (5 ounces). Mix with a fork to ensure no lumps of gelatin remain. Set aside. In a medium pot, combine remaining water, corn syrup, sugar and salt over medium heat. Stir gently with spatula to ensure sugar dissolves; avoid splashing. Cook until the mixture registers 240°F (116°C) on a candy thermometer. When it does, immediately shut off the heat and cool to 210°F (99°C). Once cool, add sugar syrup to the gelatin mixture and whip on low speed until gelatin has fully dissolved. Increase speed to medium high and whip until light, fluffy and tripled in bulk. While still mixing, add in salt and vanilla. Use a spatula to transfer all but 4 ounces of the mixture to a pastry bag. Set the pastry bag aside.
Return remaining 4 ounces of fluff to the mixer and set speed to low. Add cream in all at once and continue mixing another minute—the fluff and cream will have a rather broken appearance. Increase speed to medium and continue whipping until they gradually become homogeneous. Once they have, increase speed to medium high and beat until stiff. Transfer to piping bag fit with a star tip and set in the refrigerator until needed.
Filling the cupcakes: Release cupcakes from the pans and arrange, upside down, on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Use a paring knife to poke a hole into the bottom of each cupcake. Take piping bag with marshmallow whipped cream and insert the tip 1-inch into the cupcake (see note). Pipe about 3/4 ounce filling into each cupcake, about one good squeeze.
Finishing the Sno Balls: Take the bag of plain marshmallow whip and hold it directly above a cupcake. Pipe a generous blob on top of the cupcake, enough that it flows down the sides of the cupcake and completely encases it. Repeat until all remaining cupcakes have been covered.
Next, tint coconut (if making a white Sno Ball, grinding the coconut in a food processor is still preferable, but can be skipped if you're don't mind the large coconut bits). To tint the coconut, pulse in a food processor, along with a bit of your food coloring of choice, until the color is evenly distributed and coconut has been ground into small bits (see note). Generously coat each marshmallow-covered cupcake in coconut and let stand for 1 hour. Save any extra coconut.
After an hour, use a large cookie cutter to trim away excess marshmallow from each Sno Ball. Use reserved coconut to coat newly exposed marshmallow edges. Serve immediately. Sno Balls are best consumed right away, but will keep for about a day.
Cupcake pan, digital scale, stand mixer or hand mixer, two pastry bags, one large plain tip, one medium star tip, candy thermometer or leave-in probe thermometer, food processor
All measurements are in weights, as volume measures can be very imprecise. I strongly recommend using a digital scale for all pastry projects.
I recommend greasing the cupcake pan, rather than using cupcake papers, because the crinkled impressions the papers leave behind on the cupcakes create a strange exterior texture for the sno balls.
I like using a medium star tip to fill the cupcakes because its shape makes it easier to pierce the cupcake and inject the filling.
Instead of using a food processor, you can tint the coconut flakes by shaking them up with food coloring in a plastic bag. However, the coconut bits on a Sno Ball are quite small and using a food processor helps grind up the coconut for a more authentic texture.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 22g||29%|
|Saturated Fat 17g||84%|
|Total Carbohydrate 80g||29%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||13%|
|Total Sugars 69g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||3%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|