August 19, 2009

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!