Homemade Sno-balls


for the coconut:
5 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
food dye

for the cake:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups hot buttermilk
1/2 cup dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, at room temperature
pinch salt

for the marshmallow:

1/4 oz. unflavored powdered gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/8 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

for the cream filling:
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup cold butter
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

for the coconut:
This step can be done the day before you want to assemble and serve the cupcakes.
Place the coconut and a few drops of dye into a resealable plastic bag. Shake to evenly distribute the dye, adding more as needed to reach the desired color. Pour the coconut into a large bowl.

for the cake:
This step can be done the day before you want to assemble and serve the cupcakes.
Preheat oven to 350. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, vinegar cocoa, and instant espresso until smooth.

In large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat until smooth. Alternate the chocolate mixture and the dry ingredients until well blended. Fill each well of the cupcake pan(s) 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of the center cupcake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

for the marshmallow:
In a large bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water. Allow to seep for 10 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/8 cup water. Bring to a vigorous boil and boil for 1 minute. Pour boiling syrup into gelatin and mix at high speed for 1 minute. Add the salt and vanilla and beat for 12 minutes. Quickly spread on three sides of the cupcakes (bottom/indented side up) and form to make a dome. Roll in coconut. Brush any coconut off the bottom. Place, plain side down on a try and allow the coconut to set up before filling.

for the cream filling:
In a small pan, mix flour with milk and boil until thick. Cool. Beat until fluffy and add other ingredients one at a time, beating well after each addition. Refrigerate 1 hour. The cream should be cold and rather stiff when you pipe it into the cake, the act of piping will soften it a bit so do not be tempted to let it warm up before filling. By this time, the marshmallow on the cupcakes should be firm enough that it is safe to fill them. Pipe cream into the center of the bottom of each cupcake.

Yield: about 10 cupcakes (depending on pan size)

Note: I used this dessert shell pan I found. It has a little indentation on the top. I just filled that tiny dent with marshmallow. It made perfect sized (and round!) cakes. If you don’t have the pan, I would make regular cupcakes and coat the bottoms and sides liberally with marshmallow, leaving the “top” free of marshmallow and sort of shape it (after the coconut) into a dome manually.

My thoughts:

Today’s my 30th birthday! I wanted to make something special after last year’s success with homemade Chocodiles so I returned to the snack cake world and created a homemade Hostess Sno-ball! If you are not familiar, a sno-ball is a coconut and marshmallow-covered, cream filled chocolate cupcake. Traditionally they are white (like a snowball) but around holidays they have colored coconut.

For this recipe I wanted to keep the character of the packaged cake but of course, homemade is tastier! I created a dark chocolate sort of devil’s food cake recipe because the original cakes are actually rather rich tasting for a commercial cupcake. My husband made the cakes last night so today there was less to do. The marshmallow on these cupcakes isn’t just fluffy marshmallow-y frosting, it is actual marshmallow just like it is on the packaged cakes. That’s why it is important to quickly roll them in the coconut and then have to wait for them to set up before you pipe in the creamy filling. Honestly they were very easy to make, there is just a number of steps (and again, making the cakes the day before is a great idea-no waiting for the cakes to cool enough to spread on the marshmallow on the assembly day) but they are all simple. It is rather messy but luckily marshmallow is just sugar so it washes right away.

They are so tasty! The cake is moist and the perfect texture and flavor. Best snack cake ever!


  1. Happy birthday! Those look great, too bad my husband won't come near coconut 🙁

  2. Happy Birthday!
    They look delicious!

  3. A very happy birthday to you! These sno-balls are such lovely treats.

  4. happy birthday 🙂 looks sooo yummy!

  5. Happy birthday! I can't tell you how many times I've thought about creating these at home. Thanks so much for posting this. I have it bookmarked to try my hand at one day. They look excellent.


  6. Happy Birthday, Rachel! I hit 30 back in April – it's not nearly so painful as everyone says it will be. Enjoy your day and have a blessed year.

  7. Happy Birthday!

    What a fun treat, I haven't had a sno-ball in years, but I'm sure yours are super tasty!

  8. Happy Bday! They're adorable. I'd love to try them!

  9. Ooohhh I'm a sno ball freak!! I could seriously eat them daily, twice!! Awesome recipe idea!

    Happy Birthdayyyy to youuuu!!

  10. Happy birthday!!
    I love your blog!

  11. How cute. And happy birthday! It was my birthday too but had too many house guests underfoot to bake up anything myself.

  12. Happy birthday! Love your blog & these look fun…but is it me or are the baking instructions for the cupcakes missing?

  13. Anon-thanks for the birthday wishes! Not sure what you are asking, I think the instructions are quite clear.

  14. Happy Birthday, Rachael,

    You've made my day with the pictures of my favorite childhood snack….I'm 10 years old again!!!

  15. Happy Birthday!

    Snoballs rule!

  16. GOSH these were my absolute FAVORITE little treat when I was little. I loved the pink ones and I think there may've been green ones for St. Patty's Day or something. (Maybe I made that up…)
    Anyways. I love that you recreated them! They look pretty spot on!

  17. I just stumbled across your blog. First of all, Happy Birthday! Second of all, your recipes look like so much fun to make! I'm excited to try some.
    -Jackie, a fellow Baltimorean and very new food blogger

  18. Happy Birthday! what a way to celebrate. these sno-balls are smashin! x

  19. Happy birthday! The sno-balls are adorable. I don't think I've ever had them before, my childhood was full of "healthy" snack foods so I'm not familiar with most forms of artificial snackyfoods.

    I would totally not be able to resist putting candy googly eyes on those though.

  20. I've always wanted to make the homemade kind. Yours look great.
    Happy belated birthday.

  21. happy Belated Birthday!

    The sno-balls look great. And you can pronouce all the ingredients!