When I chat to people from my hometown, we inevitably end up time travelling through reminiscing about our childhood treats. The were wealthy families and poor ones too, but the one thing that they had in common was a love for all things delicious. Some of us look back and for sure, we feel like we were deprived of so much but we also take note of the things we had then that our kids will never experience…and childhood friendships are the first thing that come to mind. I don’t feel so bad about having so much less than most people did…it was just my perception at the time and without my so-called hand, my life could have turned out differently….but thinking back on those days, there was an unspoken reality that most of us from Isipingo faced…so many talented people thinking….I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell!
Without money, a troubled secondary education or a chance at tertiary education, there was a sense of hopelessness that hung over the town like an unspoken destiny. It was only much later that I realized that we never actually needed to leave to make it…growing up in Isipingo taught us the lessons we needed to succeed. It frustrated some to the point that they became the most driven people who have succeeded not only in South Africa but abroad too….a few names that pop into my mind…Nanda Soobben, the political cartoonist, and a missile aerodynamicist who’s name I care not to mention! That’s a story for another day….but the children of Isipingo made it to the big time….Doctor’s lawyers and accountants…not to mention entrepreneurs…the common thread amongst us was that we learnt to hustle! We did after all have a chance in hell, we just didn’t know it at the time!
People who left South Africa to holiday were celebrities and those who left to study abroad had super stardom status….hardly anyone ever got out so it was really newsworthy! We grew up in a time when we went to the Old Louis Botha airport to bid farewell to a person going on holiday. I can still remember my uncle leaving to London and my mom wearing her best silk sari to the airport. She pulled out an old leather suitcase from under the bed and in it was a treasure trove of saris…they smelled almost religious to me, with a faint hint of incense…also they were old which reminded me of how little she had and how much she treasured her little stash of silks. I remember burying my face in the pleats and pissing her off, but she had no idea then that the scent of her would live in my memory forever! She had incredibly long hair and she pulled it into a ponytail and in seconds almost like a magic trick, she coiled it into a fashionable bun…it was my job to pass her the hairpins and she got really irritated when I was a bit slow from day dreaming. How many of you remember this ritual….the sari, the makeup, the bun and lastly….the hairspray that made us choke….and then of course, she would cover her hair with a handkerchief to control the fine, wispy strays!
These were the days before new age cakes and baking…no red velvet cakes and croissants or chocolate ganache anything! Wareings Bakery was a name that every kid knew…they made pies, mock cream doughnuts and the amazing snowball too. On a school sports day, each kid got a doughnut or sometimes a snowball with a Coo-ee to go with it…it was tradition and something our kids will never experience! Snowballs and doughnuts from the corner shops around Isipingo were incredibly popular…Uncle Goolam from the Curry Tray, or Colleen’s Tearoom across the road from the Isipingo Beach Library or Jeena’s in Isipingo Hills…or the Busy Bee on Old Main Road…they displayed the doughnuts and snowballs on the counter, sometimes behind glass, but always on newsprint! They were fresh and delicious and we never tired of them! Anyone knows what happened to Wareings? I haven’t spotted their stuff in years and why is it so hard to find a good snowball???
After numerous requests, I finally got around to making up a batch…there is always some hesitation around a recipe that isn’t just a recipe…it’s so much more than that! It’s a memory of a time that life was a lot simpler, friendships were real, and no one real cared if you got the snowball coconut all over the back seat of the car! For some that don’t know what a snowball is, I can best describe it as a delicious whoopie pie, sandwiched together with an icing paste, dunked in a syrup and then rolled in tinted coconut! Keep them in an airtight biscuit tin for a day or so….if they last that long! I got the kids to help with weighing, measuring and coconut tinting, snowball syrup dunking too so click here to watch the clips…https://youtu.be/GgCqH2GL35s and here for how my kitchen helpers, Rushil and Tanvi, finished up their task so watch for their theatrical ending in this clip, https://youtu.be/vn8KBCAiGmQ
Lastly, I dedicate this recipe to all those ‘Snowballs’ from Isipingo!
Makes 10 – 12
400ml desiccated coconut
Few drops pink colouring
2 large eggs
5ml vanilla essence
375ml self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
For sandwiching the cakes…
200ml icing sugar
20ml boiled water
For the syrup…
150ml smooth apricot
7ml red food colouring
Place the desiccated coconut in a mixing and add few drops of pink food colouring. Rub the colouring into the coconut to tint the coconut until evenly coloured.
Cream the butter until light and fluffy, then gradually add the sugar.
Continue creaming until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Whisk the eggs lightly then gradually add this to the creamed butter, add a 2 teaspoons flour with the eggs to prevent curdling.
Add the salt and vanilla essence.
Add the flour and work the mixture into a soft dough.
Divide the dough into portions – I weighed them into 25g balls.
Roll each one until smooth and place on a baking tray lined with greased paper.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170°C for 12 – 15 minutes. They should be pale in colour with the bases turning light golden brown.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Make the syrup – heat the sugar and water in a 24cm AMC pot. Bring the syrup to the boil once the sugar has dissolved. Add the apricot jam and simmer until the syrup is slightly thick – not too thick as it will prevent the syrup from penetrating the snowball. Tint the syrup with red food colouring.
Once the snowballs are cool, mix the icing sugar and boiled water into a thick, smooth paste, then sandwich the snowballs together.
Leave to harden slightly – this takes a minute or two, then dip the snowballs into the hot syrup and toss them a few times to make sure they are coated. I used tongs for this as the syrup was quite warm.
Place them into the coconut and toss to coat evenly.
Dust off the excess coconut and place on baking paper.
These are delicious eaten fresh but may be stored for up to two days.