Homemade Hostess Sno Balls

Oh, the weather outside is…weather. There is not exactly a Jack Frost nip in the air; in Maine this week it’s fifty degrees and drizzly. Strange, but not altogether unpleasant. We’ll just have to make our own snowballs, I decided. Sno Balls, that is! Hostess Sno Balls, to be correct. Those icky sticky ooey gooey plastic pink coconut treats your dad would bring home from the grocery store. Why anyone over the age of eight would want to eat these saccharine spheres of corn syrup and red dye #7 is a mystery to me, and why I would attempt a homemade version is an even greater koan. Such is the life of a food blogger. Sometimes, you just have to persevere without insight or satisfying answers.

The process was not so difficult. The cake portion is simple enough, and yields a delicious, spongy chocolate cake, a recipe I would use again in a less psychedelic dessert creation. You will need a candy thermometer, but beyond that no special tools are required. BTW, if you don’t have cream of tartar in your pantry, go get some now so you won’t have to stop what you are doing elbow-deep in eggwhite, drive to Hannaford, ask the gommy stockboy to help you find the cream of tartar, have a meeting of the minds in aisle three to determine what sort of black magic this tiny jar of weird is made of, drive through Starbucks for a peppermint mocha, and get home an hour later. Honestly. It’s a fun, rainy day baking project, if messy and somewhat elaborate. Don’t worry, it’ll be great. Here’s how I did it.

Homemade Hostess Sno Balls


For the chocolate cake:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups milk

For the filling/frosting:

  • 6 room temperature egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • 3 drops red food coloring


For the chocolate cake:

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla. In another bowl whisk the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Add about half the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture, pour in the milk, and then the rest of the flour mixture, until just combined. Ladle batter into greased muffin/cupcake tins and bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 15 minutes. Makes 2 dozen. Let cool completely before beginning the next step, which is to cut a cone out of the bottom of each cake. Trim (and discard, if you wish) the pointy end, leaving only a small circle to cap the cake once filled.

For the filling/frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer beat egg whites until soft peaks form. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water and cream of tartar and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cool until the syrup reaches 242 Farenheit. Slowly pour syrup into the egg whites, followed by the vanilla and coconut extracts. Whip for another ten minutes, until the mixture is thickened and room temperature. Meanwhile, process coconut until fine in a food processor, adding the food coloring, if desired. This goes in a shallow bowl for rolling/sprinkling the almost-finished product. Use a pastry bag (or Ziplock with the corner cut out) to fill each cupcake, and replace cake cap, leaving upside down for frosting. With a small spatula coat the sides and bottom with a light layer of frosting, then add the coconut sprinkles. The End.

Epilogue. There is a slight problem with this method, I feel I must disclose. As I had never tasted a sno ball, I didn’t understand that the exterior coating ought to be thicker, more like a fluff than a frosting. Makes sense. The filling’s looseness made for kind of drippy work, and a treat that is not a proper copycat recipe, as far as consistency is concerned. But the flavor is right on, super sweet, synthetic, but better, than a packaged version would be. And, as I mentioned, the cake itself is fantastic. I feel like the end result of these experiments is often less-than-conclusive, why-did-I-bother, I could just go down to the Cumby’s and buy a package for, I don’t know, forty-nine cents. They are awfully cute. Malcolm suggested that his recipe for marshmallow fluff might result in a more viscous frosting. Which means a third step. But if you are going to the trouble…I would think the three textures intermingling with every bite is part of the thrill for the sno ball afficianado. Like so much in baking, this recipe affords you time to think, slow down, meditate while you mix and measure. I found it rather soothing and deliberate. Go for it, if you have a few extra hours this time of year (and who doesn’t?) There you have it, friends: life, the universe, and sno balls. All in a day’s work.

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road.


  1. I love it! And it beats the heck out of watching old William Hurt movies that make you cry because he’s a doctor but he really learns to love his patients through having cancer himself and surviving…and on and on. I’d rather eat a Sno Ball. Any day.

  2. The outside of a Hostess snowball is marshmallow. You can literally peel it off, thereby skinning the ball.
    I used to peel off the skin, then nibble off all the chocolate sponge possible, and return the cream filling to the coconut marshmallow shell. The result looked like a funky, pink, cream-filled taco. ^^

    1. My sisters & I would check Dad’s lunchbox every morning, to see if he had left his Sno Ball there. He worked 2nd shift and was asleep when we got up for school. I never much liked marshmallows, so I shared the chocolate cake and they ate the marshmallow outside they’d peeled off.

  3. I’m with Sistabella…peel that pink “skin” off, lick out the cream and then moosh all the rest back together! Daggone, I never realized there was so much to eating one of those! Hahahaaa…yours are adorable and I’m sure, much tastier!

    1. thanks, Kym! We’d love to try your custom cakes! Cake is one of the things getting us through this housebound/newborn phase.

  4. Thank you for the recipe, I also thought I was never going to get another snoball. (all of our stores are sold out with Hostess goodies). Instead of your filling recipe, I make my own marshmallow, for candy. Which I plan on using with the cakes. This is going to be so fun for Xmas goodies. Thanks again for the recipe

  5. I was just trying to surprise my brother this year for Christmas with a gift box. This is his first year without his family and he is my best friend. He loves snowballs so much and I would love to send him some. Would you guys say this is a good recipe to do for him? Will they hold up when I send them? Or any recommendations? I wanna make this the best Christmas present ever from his lil sis. Can anybody email me some ideas or answers? I wanna back him all kinda sweets. I usually make bicottis for him, but i wanna just go all out this time. my email is shannongregori@hotmail.com or on here is cool too. Thanks ahead of time for everyones help. 😀

  6. Why would anybody over the age of 8 eat these things? Because they taste great, that’s why. I’m one of the huddled masses who cried real tears upon the death of Hostess and drove lickety-split to the nearest grocery to fill my cart with all the pink, marshmallowy, coconut-topped gooey confections I could find. I’ve been eating them for more than 50 years, and I’m not about to stop. But…I’m down to two packages. I hear Walmart makes a decent substitute. I’ll try your recipe, thank you very much!

  7. Just came across your blog while searching for a fun dessert ball to make for a friends annual “Ball Off” party we go to every year. I love the snow ball idea,one of my favorites. I think I can make these into more of a ball easily enough, but wanted to see if you had an opinion of the frosting that may not be as “sticky” for a ball…? I am leaning to a fluff style frosting.

  8. Nah, SnoBalls have to have a cream filling (same as in Twinkies or King Dons), and a marshmallow coating, (covered in coconut.) I’m sure your confection is tasty, but maybe change the title so those looking for an actual SnoBalls copycat recipe won’t waste time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.