On New Year’s Eve, along with my vassilopita (St Basil’s lucky cake), I love to bake these delicious cookies and to decorate them suitably on a platter with chocolate coins for good luck in the new year. Other than the fact that they look fantastic and entice the whole family to enjoy them immensely, the added bonus is they are not as punishing to your waistline as you’d think! There is no trace of chocolate or butter in them – instead, they contain cocoa powder and sunflower oil, but taste fluffy and chocolatey as if they were the real thing. I call them Magic Snowballs because when they bake something whimsical happens! Check out the recipe below and you’ll see what I mean.
INGREDIENTS (makes 50-60 cookies)
75 gr of cocoa powder
300 gr caster sugar
150 ml sunflower oil
300 gr all purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of instant coffee granules
icing sugar for coating
Vanilla essence (in Greece we can buy it in powder form in tiny plastic containers and for this recipe we’d use two. If you use it in different forms, put in whatever amount of vanilla essence you’d use in a cake).
A pinch of salt
This is all done by hand. No electric mixer needed or advised. Prepare to get your hands dirty a little. Trust me – it’s worth it! Ideally, you will make the mixture in the evening, put it in the fridge, and bake the cookies the next day.
Crack all the eggs in a little bowl.
In another bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder, the salt and the coffee granules.
Place the cocoa powder, caster sugar, vanilla essence and sunflower oil in a mixing bowl. Stir them briskly with an egg whisker.
Add one egg from your bowl. Careful: only one yolk and some white. Stir briskly with the egg whisker for about 20 seconds. Throw in the second egg and stir again briskly for another 20 seconds. Repeat the same procedure till all four eggs have gone in.
Add the flour mix into the chocolate mix. This time, use your hands to mix SOFTLY. As soon as the ingredients blend fully, stop. You don’t want to blend too much or the oil will separate from the solids.
Line a glass or plastic bowl (not metal) with cling film and place the mixture in it. Yes, it’s sticky. Be patient, it’ll all pay off! Use a spoon to scrape the mixture off your hands and into the bowl if it’s too much. Wash your hands and wrap the mix in a nice, tight little parcel. Place the parcel in the fridge inside the bowl for at least four hours. I find it’s better when I’ve left it in the fridge overnight and bake the cookies on the next day.
When the mix is ready for baking:
Line your oven’s cookie tray with baking paper.
Place some icing sugar in a small bowl. Set a large plate next to it.
Make small balls with the mixture, place them in the icing sugar, 3-4 at a time, and move the bowl from side to side to cover the balls fully with sugar.
Place them on the plate ready for baking. When you have about 25-30, you’re ready to bake the first batch. Place them on your cookie tray and leave enough space in between as they flatten out during baking. It’s the whimsical thing I mentioned earlier!
Bake in a preheated oven using the upper and lower heating elements at 180 degrees for exactly 10 minutes.
While the cookies are being baked, prepare the second batch and have it ready on the plate.
Tip: Before placing the second batch in the oven, put them back in the bowl with the sugar to re-coat them if needed. If they are not sufficiently covered with icing sugar, when they bake, they won’t be white enough on top.
I hope you will agree what happens during baking is a bit of a magic trick that will impress the kids! As you can see, the balls flatten out and turn into what look like snowed little mountains. Okay, so maybe my imagination is running wild – But I’m an author – please indulge me!
So, there you go! A lovely platter of Snow Ball cookies that will bring utter delight to your household all year round. Enjoy!
Do you have a sweet tooth? Oh I feel you! Try my chalva recipes or my homemade ice cream. You’ll find all my recipes here: http://bit.ly/1L9GuKu
Care for some more magic today? My Amazon #1 bestseller, The Amulet, is just the ticket… Drift in your mind to a Greek summer paradise and let the magic of a quirky bunch of angels enchant you! But be warned! It brims over with tantalizing descriptions of Greek food and will make you feel ravenous – read at your own peril! FREE excerpt & book trailer:
Have you heard of the Greek New Year’s Eve tradition of the hidden coin in the cake? It’s a delightful custom in honor of St Vassileios (the Greek version of Santa). Grab my recipe and have some Greek fun with your family as you welcome the new year!