The South African snowball is a cake-like treat, dipped in strawberry jam and coated in pink coconut. It is sandwiched together with a combination of icing sugar and jam. I am not sure of the origins of this pretty pink treat. Much like whoopie pies, snowballs are neither a cookie, pie, or cake. They have a soft cake-like texture but can be moulded and shaped like scones. They are commonly made using butter, eggs and a leavening agent which results in a crumbly biscuit-like crust and a soft sponge centre. They are almost reminiscent of lamingtons. Since first publishing this South African Snowballs recipe, nearly nine years ago, I have since found that they also resemble Australian jelly cakes. The main difference is that the latter has a whipped cream filling and is dipped in jelly instead of jam. I have also tried and perfected a few new techniques for shaping snowballs’ iconic shapes. Not quite round, they are almost ellipse-shaped and I have added an eggless snowball recipe too. If you have tried this recipe, I would love to know how it turned out. If you share in Facebook groups, don’t forget to add a link to this original recipe.
Table of Contents
How To Make South African Snowballs
Amma’s Snowball Recipe
Snowballs are one of the baked treats that evoke the best childhood memories. Amma’s brother worked at the Wareings Bakery in Durban, home for most baked treats like cream buns, fresh cream doughnuts and snowballs. We always got these treats when my uncle visited. Amma usually made pink snowballs for Diwali more than she did any other time of the year. I recall her sometimes making yellow snowballs with turmeric. If you find yourself without pink food coloring one of the best natural substitutes is beetroot juice. Cut a beetroot into slices then allow to soak in a quarter cup of water. Leave for a few hours then use the pink liquid as your food coloring. Use no more than one teaspoon of this beetroot juice as you don’t want to make your coconut too soggy. Allow the coloured coconut to dry before using.
1. Start by sifting your flour. This may seem like a tedious task but it is essential if you want a flop-proof snowball. Once this is done, add your baking powder then rub the butter into the mixture to form fine crumbs. I use a bread knife to cut into the mixture this breaks down lumps very well. If you have a mixer then simply use this. Make sure the butter is at room temperature – this helps with the success of the snowballs. The butter and flour need to bind well to form fine crumbs.
2. Whisk the eggs. Add vanilla essence then whisk until fluffy. Add castor sugar. Add the egg mixture to the breadcrumbs mixture.
3. Mix well until a soft pliable dough is formed. Although the texture of cooked snowballs is like that of a firm cake, the batter on the other hand is soft and thick. It should resemble a combination of scones dough and pound cake mixture…something like the image below…you should be able to pull it apart with your hands.
How To Shape Pink Coconut Snowballs
When I first made these I simply pinched out small pieces of about 4 cm diameter dough and rolled them into small balls then placed them onto a lined baking tray. Since then I have found a few more ways to make them. The first is to use an ice cream scoop, which is not only good for scooping ice cream it seems, but is ideal for scooping soji halwa and making snowballs too. Simply scoop the snowball dough. Do not use a full scoop but rather half.
The second method is to shape in a patty cake pan.
How to Make Snowballs Pink
To make pink coconut simply place the desiccated coconut into a bowl then add colouring. Mix well until all the coconut is coloured. Allow to dry while you make the syrup.
How to Bake Snowballs
- Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes or until cooked-cooking time varies differently according to different ovens. Try not to open the oven this will make the snowballs crack.
- The snowballs don’t need to brown. Test to see if snowballs are ready by inserting a toothpick. If the toothpick is pulled out without any dough clinging to it- then the snowballs are cooked.
- Once cooked remove from oven and allow to cool. While this cools-prepare the syrup and pink coconut.
How to Make Syrup for Snowballs
To make the syrup for your snowballs you will need 1 cup of jam and a half cup of water.
Let the water boil then add jam and mix until the jam is diluted. I prefer the syrup not to be too weak since you don’t want it to seep through the snowball. You just want it to form a binding layer between the coconut and the snowball.
Cream or Jam Filling Between Snowballs
Once the snowballs have cooled use jam to stick the two pieces together.
The original Durban snowballs have a cream-filled centre (according to my sister -the self-proclaimed snowball connoisseur).
If you prefer the authentic Durban snowballs then you could use icing sugar instead of jam or as I have done, a combination of both. To make the icing filling simply mix 1 tablespoon butter with 3/4 cup icing sugar. Add a drop of lemon juice to the butter then beat until fluffy. Add icing sugar then mix until you have a smooth paste. Apply to snowball then add a dollop of strawberry or raspberry jam and sandwich together.
Once you have finished inserting jam or icing into all the snowballs dip each one into the jam syrup then into the pink coconut.
Snowballs are best served cool when the jam has hardened forming a sugary layer between the coconut and the snowball.
How to Store Snowballs
Snowballs can be a little messy with the coconut I find it easiest to store them in a muffin cup, this way you can stack them into a storage container.
If you found this recipe useful please feel free to leave comments below or perhaps if you have tried the recipe…let me know how it has worked for you…don’t forget to check out other South African Indian Recipes in this blog –the Recipe Index allows easy navigation for all recipes within the site.