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Homemade Sno-Ball Cupcakes

Homemade Sno-Ball Cupcake

Sno-Balls, or Snowballs, are a type of snack cake made by Hostess that feature a chocolate cake surrounded by a marshmallow frosting then rolled in coconut to give it a fluffy, snowy look. Like other snack cakes made by the company, the chocolate cake centers are creme-filled. Sno Balls were introduced in 1947 as all-white creations, with white frosting and white coconut over a chocolate cake. To jazz them up, cream filling was added to the cakes in 1950, and at some point the company started tinting the coconut topping pink. It wasn’t exactly snowball-like, but the color certainly was eye catching. I only had these cakes a few times as a kid (drawn in by the color, I admit!). They looked good, and sounded good, but never tasted as good as I hoped they would . I decided to put together a homemade version so I could have the treats, fresh and tasty, any time.

I started out with a plain chocolate cupcake. The packaged cakes seem to use a moist sponge cake, but I wanted something that would be more tender and would have more chocolate flavor. I ended up opting for a fairly straightforward chocolate cake, using cocoa powder (as opposed to melted chocolate) to keep the cake light and the flavor deep, without being overwhelming to the frosting and topping. Once the cakes were baked, I cut out the centers to prepare to fill them. I found the cake to be very easy to work with and it held up really well during handling for filling and frosting.

Homemade Sno-Ball Cupcake, interior

For the frosting, I used a marshmallow-like icing that involves cooking sugar to soft ball stage and streaming it in to beaten egg whites. The finished consistency is somewhere between marshmallow and meringue, and is very similar to the frosting used on the packaged cakes, but with a much better flavor. It didn’t spread on as smoothly as a buttercream would have, but did smooth out nicely when the cakes were rolled in coconut and created much better representation of what the “real” cake should be. I used the frosting for the cake filling, too, and flavored it with a little bit of vanilla extract and coconut extract. The coconut is optional, but since there is no shredded coconut in the filling, it gives the whole thing a bit more flavor if you use it.

Leave the cakes out for at least 2 hours after being frosted and rolled in coconut to give the icing a chance to dry and set up. It will still be light and tender when you bite into it, but it will hold its shape much better than it did when wet. These can be stored for about a day or maybe a day and a half, but they’ll go quickly, so don’t worry about having leftovers.

Homemade Sno-Ball Cupcake Assembly

Homemade Snowball Cupcakes
Chocolate Cupcakes
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups milk (low fat is fine)

Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease two 12-cup muffin tins (don’t bother using wrappers, as you’d just have to remove them to work with the cakes).
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla extract.
In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Add half of flour mixture to the butter mixture, followed by the milk, then finished with the addition of the rest of the flour mix. Stir well between each addition and mix only until no streaks of flour remain.
Evenly distribute batter into prepared baking cups. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. (It’s fine if you can’t fit both trays into the oven at the same time, just wait until one batch finishes before putting in the second pan).
Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting and filling.

Prepare cooled cupcakes for filling by using a small pairing knife, to cut a cone of cake (1-inch across by 1-inch deep) out of the bottom of each cupcake. Trim off the pointy end of the cone, leaving a thin and flat circle of cake. Set aside and repeat this process for all the cupcakes. Centers can be discarded, but save the discs of cake to seal the filled cakes later. Cupcakes should be set upside down for this project. (A photo how-to of the assembly method can be found here.)

Snowball Frosting
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 cup water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract (optional)
3 cups sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut

Put the egg whites in to bowl of an electric mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer nearby.
Combine sugar, cream of tartar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cool until syrup reaches 242F (use a candy thermometer).
As syrup nears correct temperature, begin to beat egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly stream in the hot sugar syrup, followed by the vanilla and coconut extracts. Beat for about 10 minutes after everything has been incorporated, or until frosting reaches room temperature.
Meanwhile, process coconut in a food processor until very fine. Add a drop of two of red food coloring if you wish to make some pink. Pour into a shallow bowl and set aside.

Place about 1 cup of frosting into a piping bag and pipe the filling into each hollowed out cupcake. Top off with a flat circle of cake to plug the hole and keep the filling in place.
Using a butter knife or a small offset spatula, frost the sides and top of each cupcake (the side with the hole cut out) with a thick layer of the frosting. Holding the cupcake carefully, gently roll it in shredded coconut and set, unfrosted-side down, on a serving platter. Repeat for each cupcake.

Makes 2-dozen.

Homemade Sno-Ball Cupcakes

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  • Sally
    August 6, 2008


  • Debbie
    August 6, 2008

    Snowballs are one of my favorites. I seen have the white and pink but of course the pink are the best. Yours look great!

  • bakingblonde
    August 6, 2008

    I used to LOVE the pink snoballs!! I lived for them and would save up to buy one from the local gas station! ha ha. I bet making your own taste 10 times better than those preservative filled packaged ones! Love the idea!!

  • pam
    August 6, 2008

    ohhhh, you brought back memories BIG TIME!!! my mom would never buy these treats for us…we got jipped! i’m making these babies this weekend, for sure! love your blog 🙂

  • Jennifer A. Wickes
    August 6, 2008

    Looks and sounds delicious!

  • Jennifer A. Wickes
    August 6, 2008

    Looks and sounds delicious!

  • Brooke
    August 6, 2008

    You are so good. I LOVE your blog. Wow thats all I can say…wow.

  • RachelM
    August 7, 2008

    Wow! I found your site from SmittenKitchen. I can’t believe this is the first recipe I saw. My dad and I used to have these as “our” treat when my Mom wasn’t looking. I still have found memories of these, although I have to admit that they don’t taste nearly as sublime as I remember from my childhood. Maybe because the forbidden aspect is gone…?

    I can’t wait to make these for my Dad! Thanks for sharing!

  • cammu
    August 7, 2008

    So cute!

  • dawn
    August 7, 2008

    Those look waaaaay better than the original Snoballs. Yours are amazing. You have such talent for sure. You should enter these into a contest.

  • Rachel
    August 7, 2008

    In the UK, Snowballs are a big ball of marshmallow, coated in a thin layer of chocolate, with coconut on the outside. Delicious and undoubtedly responsible for most of my dental problems. And now I want some!

  • Mrs.Sound
    August 8, 2008

    I must say this is a very lovely recipe. Cute and very nice. Keep it up with your great ideas.

  • Delicious Chroncles
    August 8, 2008

    they seem absolutely delicious!!

  • snooky doodle
    August 10, 2008

    yummy i m a coconut and chocolate freak these look delicious

  • Mary
    August 11, 2008

    I just love these!!! I am always on the look out for recipes to replace store bought foods. When you read the ingredients on the package of snowballs – it will make you sick. That’s what happened to me with Thomas’ Toast R Cakes Corn Muffins. The first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup! So I came up with my own recipe. I’ve posted it here:


    All the best,


  • susan
    August 28, 2008

    ooh! i love it! and ur blog is amazing.

  • carol
    September 22, 2008

    Man, I LOVED these as a kid. Ok…I still love them. I remember always having to have them for my brown bag lunch when we went on a field trip and I “HAD” to bring my lunch. I think I will make these this weekend. They look so good… Thanks!

  • carol
    September 22, 2008

    Man, I LOVED these as a kid. Ok…I still love them. I remember always having to have them for my brown bag lunch when we went on a field trip and I “HAD” to bring my lunch. I think I will make these this weekend. They look so good… Thanks!

  • Roulette Tim
    October 3, 2008

    I always wondered how to make this delicious treat. Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  • Poker Dave
    October 14, 2008

    The snowball cupcakes were delicious, the sponge was second to none. Well recommended!

  • Rina
    December 13, 2008

    Is there anything I can use to replace the butter in these cupcakes, or can I just use a differernt cocolate cupcake recipe?

    otherwise, looks and sounds delish! Will have to make for “Santa” 🙂

  • Anonymous
    February 2, 2009

    Cocoanut cocoa snowballs

  • Donna
    February 8, 2010

    I made these this weekend for my mother’s birthday. She is a sno-ball lover from way back. They were so yummy. It was a bit of a process to make and very messy, but well worth it. I had a lot of the cupcakes stick in the muffin tin even though I had buttered them very well. Was supposed to turn them out as soon they finished baking? Other than that, they were perfect. They taste even better than the original and they are so pretty. Thanks for the recipie.

  • Anonymous
    March 9, 2010

    You freakin rule!

  • Ana
    September 3, 2012

    Thank you so much for the recipe!!!! I saw those cupcakes on iCarly (Sam’s Fat Cakes) and I really wanted one but they are so expensive and take a lot of time to get here! So thx a lot, now I can make them! 😀

  • Susan
    February 4, 2013

    Great recipe! I made them for a Super Bowl party, tinting the cocount green to look like grass and putting little football players on them.

    There is a typo in the instructions for the frosting: it says to bring the ingredients to a boil and allow to cooL to 242…it should be cooK to 242.

    Will definitely make again!

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