One of the most recognized confections in Newfoundland, these traditional snowballs are a no-bake version with lots of chocolate and coconut flavour!
Simply referred to as snowballs by most Newfoundlanders, this might be one of the most common confections prepared at Christmastime across the island. I’m not sure I can say that I’ve ever had a Christmas pass by without eating at least a few of these.
My mom used to make these all of the time, however, I can’t recall if her recipe used a store-bought chocolate cake mix, or if she made hers using cocoa powder. My ex wife used to make these as well, but I think she was the one responsible for introducing me to the cake mix approach. Either way you dice it, these are so freakin’ delicious! And so easy too!
I first posted this recipe to the blog about 3 years ago. I remember bringing samples to work for everyone to try. One of my coworkers, Nadia, liked them so much that she decided to make 10 dozen of them for a Christmas cookie exchange she was participating in. I’m so glad they were a success for her!
Coconut – shredded, flaked, desiccated?
Now, I wanted to talk for a minute about the coconut. Most of the snowball recipes I’ve found, uses sweetened coconut. My mom used to use sweetened coconut as well in her Traditional Newfoundland Snowballs. I found the sweetened coconut to be way too sweet, so I recommend using unsweetened coconut.
It’s imperative that you use a medium shred coconut for this recipe. Finely shredded coconut is too small and you won’t get the right snowball texture. The same goes for flaked coconut. It’s too big and it makes it really difficult to roll the mixture into balls.
Desiccated coconut is one of my favourite coconuts to use in baking, but sometimes it’s too fine. Find yourself a shredded coconut that’s clearly marked “medium shredded” and get the unsweetened for best results. If you really like sweet things, you can get sweetened coconut.
Boxed cake mixes galore!
Have you walked down the baking aisle lately at any decent-sized grocery store? The available variety of boxed cake mixes is very impressive! It seems there’s one for every flavour you can think of, and then each flavour has a variety too.
For instance, my local grocery store probably has four or five different types of chocolate cake mix – and that’s just from the one brand! So, which one is best for this recipe?
The simple answer, my Dear Reader, is either one of them. To be completely honest, I would recommend buying one that is brand name to get the best colour and taste. The brown colour you see inside the snowball here is based only on the cake mix, so you want a good quality.
I bought Duncan Hines this time around. You can use Betty Crocker too. The Duncan Hines brand has Dark Chocolate Fudge, Swiss Chocolate, German Chocolate, Triple Chocolate, and Devil’s Food – all great choices for these Traditional Newfoundland Snowballs.
Can’t find a 15 ounce box of cake mix?
Don’t worry; if your cake mix is an ounce or two over or under. Even the Duncan Hines flavours I mentioned above all have different sizes written on the box, or so it seems. It’s really not going to make a difference. Just find one that’s as close to 15 ounces as possible.
If you’re looking for a cookie that you can prepare ahead of time and freeze until you need them, then look no further! These snowballs are absolutely for doing just that.
These will freeze literally rock-hard, but don’t worry. All you need to do is to leave them at room temperature for maybe 20 minutes or so and they’ll be right back to normal.
Be sure to remove only as many as you need. You want to avoid freezing, thawing, and then freezing again if you don’t finish them all. I find the best way to thaw them is to place the number of snowballs I need onto a plate in a single layer. They thaw perfectly!
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Traditional Newfoundland Snowballs
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 4 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
- 3 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 15 ounce store-bought boxed chocolate cake mix
- In a saucepan, gently bring to a simmer, the butter, sugar, and milk. Do not allow the mixture to come to a boil. Once the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved, remove the saucepan from the heat.
- In a large bowl, whisk together 3 1/2 cups of the coconut (set aside one cup for rolling the snowballs into later), chocolate cake mix, and rolled oats.
- Poor the cooled butter mixture over the dry ingredients, and using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix the ingredients together until well incorporated.
- The mixture will look gooey. Place the bowl into the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours.
- Place the remaining one cup of coconut into a shallow, wide-set bowl. When the mixture has had time to set, use a small cookie scoop to portion out equal amounts of the cookie mixture. Roll the mixture into balls. Coat the balls in the remaining coconut by gently rolling the ball around.
- Keep refrigerated. These snowballs are freezer friendly as well. Enjoy!
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