Published

Inspired by the traditional Scottish Macaroon Bar, enjoy bite-sized mini snow balls of this sweet treat, made of sugar, toasted coconut, chocolate – and potato! Not to be confused with the Parisian macaron or the coconut macaroon, this is the Scottish real McCoy but made into balls rather than bars.

bite-sized fondant macaroons in glass dish one bitten

Scottish Macaroons, French Macaroons & Parisian Macarons

Normally, I talk about Parisian macarons, as I wrote two recipe books on them (hence the blog title, Mad About Macarons!). Moreover, I have a recipe for French Macaroons in my 2nd book, Teatime in Paris. The Parisian macaron basically contains ground almonds, icing/powdered sugar and egg whites. Macaroons consist of the same but contain coconut instead of ground almonds. Both are gluten free.

This time we’re talking about a macaroon made with potato, so let’s roll our sleeves up as this will be messy. As I personally find them particularly sweet, we’re converting traditional Scottish Macaroon Bars into these Scottish Macaroon Bar Snow Balls!  They are not just gluten free but vegan too!

To avoid any confusion between the three of them, and to discover more about the nationality of a macaron or macaroon, read my article What’s the Difference Between a Macaron and a Macaroon?

advent calendar bags for macarons

What could be in the bags? Macarons, macaroons or Scottish macaroon bar snow balls?

The advent calendar is up, filled with riddles and surprises; I didn’t think that Lucie would still want it this year but it’s a challenge each year for me to make each filled bag more thought-provoking. However, I could just fill up each one with mini bite-sized balls, inspired by the classic Scottish macaroon bar.

boxes of mighty macaroons from Scotland

The Scottish Macaroon Bar

Times like this evoke childhood memories, don’t they? Take teatime. Do you have an afternoon treat that rekindles a warm, sweet blast from the past? As a Scottish lass, there are a couple of sweet treats that can still instantly conjure up an instant glow: Tunnock’s teacakes and a Lee’s macaroon bar. I say the macaroon bar in the singular, since it’s so densely sweet that one rectangular bar is more than enough!

The original Macaroon Bar is made with a hard fondant centre of mainly icing (powdered) sugar and mashed potato (yes, you heard me right), which is coated in a mix of chocolate and toasted coconut.

The Macaroon Bar in Scotland was originally manufactured in Glasgow by Lee’s in 1931 and they still make them today. It’s a classic.  I even see they’re sold on Amazon.co.uk for homesick Scots!

The other day I wanted to prepare some British treats for the Lycée International’s school Christmas Fête, west of Paris. Since I was already on a roll with these vegan no-bake chocolate-coconut snowballs, making mini snow ball versions of a Scottish Macaroon Bar make them a little less naughty with all that sugar!

homemade Scottish Macaroon Bar Snowballs packaging

 

How to Make Scottish Macaroon Bar Snow Balls

SEE THE FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE CARD BELOW.

Inspired by Jacqueline’s blog at TinnedTomatoes.com.  I’ve found that the amount of sugar will vary, depending on how dry your potato is.

The drier the potato the better, Russett, Maris Piper – I use Bintje in France.

For more, see the market produce guide to potatoes.

You may need more or less but the fondant should be thick and quite difficult to stir at the end, when it’s just right and ready to roll. They may be packed with sugar but they’re gluten free!
Update December 2017: My friend, Christina Conte also has a recipe for the more classic shape of Bars – but at the time of writing I hadn’t discovered her yet!

Makes approx. 36 macaroon balls

Peel the potato and cut it into quarters, then boil until soft.  Rinse off the extra starch in cold water.  Mash until smooth in a large mixing bowl and leave to cool completely.

mashing potato to make sweet macaroon bar treats

2. Using a wooden spoon, add the vanilla extract (or powder) then a few spoonfuls of icing sugar at a time, stirring well to mix.  Don’t worry: the mix will be runny and rather unappetising at first but eventually, as you add more and more icing sugar, it will thicken.

mixing mashed potato with icing-powdered sugar

3. The sugar-potato fondant will be ready as soon as it’s difficult to worth with: it will be stiff and difficult to stir.
(Not the case? Add more icing sugar – not water!)  At that point, cover it in cling-film or plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

How to make Scottish macaroon bar lees snowballs

4. Cover two baking trays with baking parchment/greaseproof paper or a Silpat mat.  Tear small balls of the macaroon fondant and roll into smooth balls the size of a one pound coin (I find it easier washing hands every 10 balls, as it can get rather sticky!)  Once all the balls are prepared, chill them directly on the trays in the fridge (update: I made mine in the winter when my kitchen was cool – you may need to put yours in the freezer).

5. Pour half of the desiccated/shredded coconut onto a non-stick baking tray and toast under a hot grill for a couple of minutes.  Keep your eye on it, as it burns far too easily!  Mix the plain coconut with the toasted batch.

toasted and plain shredded coconut

6. Break the chocolate into bits and melt over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie).  Leave to cool slightly for about 5 minutes.

7. This is when fun and messy fingers take over the kitchen: dip each macaroon fondant into the melted chocolate (I started using a cocktail stick then gave up – too long!), then immediately roll each in the coconut then place back on the baking tray.  Ideally use separate hands for each.

8. Place the baking trays with the coated macaroon snowballs in the fridge to set.

The macaroon bar snowballs can keep in a tin or airtight container in a cool, dry place for 7-10 days.  There’s no need to keep them chilled in the fridge.

Like macarons, they’re gluten free but these are also vegan.

round coconut covered chocolate snowballs
Love bite-sized festive treats?
Then try these chocolate, coconut & raisin snow balls too.

 

Scottish Macaroon Bar Snowballs

bite-sized fondant macaroons in glass dish one bitten
5 from 1 vote

Scottish Mini Macaroon Snowballs

Author: Jill Colonna
Prep Time40 mins
Chilling time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 40 mins
Course : Dessert, Snack
Cuisine : Scottish
Keyword : snowballs, scottish macaroon
Servings : 36 snowballs

Description

Inspired by the traditional Scottish Macaroon Bar, enjoy bite-sized mini balls of this sweet treat, made of sugar, toasted coconut, chocolate - and potato!

Ingredients

  • 1 potato (about 120g/4oz) dry potato (Russett, Maris Piper, Bintje)
  • 460 g (1lb) icing sugar (powdered) more or less
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or vanilla powder)
  • 200 g (7oz) dark chocolate at least 64% cocoa solids
  • 200 g (7oz) finely shredded coconut

Instructions

  • Peel the potato and cut it into quarters, then boil until soft.  Rinse off the extra starch in cold water and dry the potatoes with kitchen paper or a towel.  Mash the potato until smooth in a large mixing bowl and leave to cool completely.
  • Using a wooden spoon, add the vanilla extract (or powder) then a few spoonfuls of icing sugar at a time, stirring well to mix.  Don't worry: the mix will be runny and rather unappetising at first but eventually, as you add more and more icing sugar, it will thicken.
  • The sugar-potato fondant will be ready as soon as it’s difficult to worth with: it will be stiff and difficult to stir.(Not the case? Add more icing sugar.)  At that point, cover it in cling-film or plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • Cover two baking trays with baking parchment/greaseproof paper or a silicone mat.  Tear small balls of the macaroon fondant and roll into smooth balls the size of a one pound coin (I find it easier washing hands every 10 balls, as it can get rather sticky!)
    Once all the balls are prepared, chill them directly on the trays in the fridge (I make mine in winter when my kitchen is cool – you may need to put yours in the freezer).
  • Pour half of the desiccated/shredded coconut onto a non-stick baking tray and toast under a hot grill for a couple of minutes.  Keep your eye on it, as it burns easily!  Mix the plain coconut with the toasted batch.
  • Break the chocolate into bits and melt over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie).  Leave to cool slightly for about 5 minutes.
  • This is when fun and messy fingers take over the kitchen: dip each macaroon fondant into the melted chocolate (I started using a cocktail stick then gave up – too long!), then immediately roll each in the coconut then place back on the baking tray.  Ideally use separate hands for each.
  • Place the baking trays with the coated macaroon snowballs in the fridge to set.

Notes

The macaroon bar snowballs can keep in a tin or airtight container in a cool, dry place for 7-10 days.  There’s no need to keep them chilled in the fridge.
Not to be confused with the Parisian Macaron or the coconut macaroon, made with egg whites, coconut and sugar.
See my article, What's the Difference Between a Macaron and a Macaroon?

Looking for more British style treats? As a proud Scot, here are some of my recipes:

From the market

From the kitchen

35 responses to “Scottish Macaroon Bar Snowballs”

  1. Well, it’s a year later since I posted and we were making macaroon bars for Christmas again… my wife is making a batch following your method, but this time I experimented with the idea I had last year to use powdered instant potato instead. Guess what – it worked! It’s not identical but it’s certainly getting eaten! I did make a correctable mistake… I added too much water initially which meant I had to add a lot of icing sugar to compensate… and I added too much and the mixture became so stiff that when I ran it through the food processor to homogenize it, the blade locked up and I could smell burning insulation! (Obviously I turned it off immediately and it seems to still work the next day). I put the mixture on a sheet of wax paper and flattened it with a rolling pin. I froze it overnight and poured melted chocolate on it next day, quickly scraping it flat and pouring a mix of plain and toasted coconut shavings from premade packets over it before it hardened. Altogether much easier and quicker, and although marginally different in flavour it was still pretty good. I suspect with a little practice and experimentation it could be made even closer to the real thing. (By the way I didn’t even need to boil the water properly – I just ran it through our coffee maker with no coffee in it – hot enough to do the job.) So I’ld say a successful experiment. Note this was American powdered potato which has no butter or milk substitute built-in – just potato.

    • Hello Graham,
      Gosh, that sounds like quite a marathon with your experiment!
      Why did you add water? I would say don’t add any at all (it’s not in the recipe here) as you will end up adding even more sugar to thicken it and the taste will eventually be different – these things are already sweet enough!
      Thanks so much for sharing all it with us here. Glad to hear it eventually worked, though – would be so interested to taste it to compare with this authentic version.

      Have a wonderful festive season and thanks again for sharing your findings with powdered potato.

  2. 5 stars
    I was Googling a recipe for Matrimonial Cake, and came across your website. Then I saw your Snowballs, and the picture reminded me of what I used to make with my mother as a child. Your recipe is exactly what my mother did. I make them so often with her, that 50 yrs later, I still remember how to make them … mashed potatoes and all! Thank you for bringing back that memory. Also, I never knew it was a Scottish recipe. We do have Scottish and Irish in the family. Again … thank you.

    • So happy to hear that these have evoked memories of making these with your mother, Sharon. I do hope you’ll enjoy the other recipes and guides. Lovely to have you here – welcome!

  3. I hope you don’t consider this suggestion sacrilegious, but would it work to make these using powdered mashed potatoes? Especially the US kind that don’t already have some sort of butter substitute mixed in (as opposed to the UK ones where all you add is water). Has anyone tried this already?

    • Hello Graham,
      I have never tried it with powdered mashed potatoes so have no idea, I’m afraid – especially as I don’t live in the USA either. If you do try them with the recipe, then please keep me posted how it goes!

      • Well, I’m making it today your way first, then I’ll experiment and see if there’s a way to do it with instant potatoes next. btw since you don’t live in the USA, I’ll elaborate on the instant food thing over here… In the UK, instant potato is sort of like batchelor food – we just want it as fast and easy as possible, all you do is all hot water. There’s even a variety that comes in little hard balls rather than powder just to reduce the effort of fluffing it up with a fork! Whereas in the USA, housewives are embarrassed to use instant foods and almost everything that could be instant has some sort of added preparation detail that you have to do, to show that you’re not completely lazy and made some effort. At least, that’s the only rationale I can come up with for why they include a separate pouch of ‘butter’ (who knows what it really is) with the mashed potatoes, or why you have to add real eggs to cake mixes rather than have them include powdered egg in the mix like the UK ones. Or why jelly for making desserts comes as a powder that you have to reconstitute with water rather than as a thick lump of concentrated jelly as in the UK. It happens so often it’s hard to see it being anything but deliberate.

  4. Hey I’m going to make these for my Aussie family for Christmas as my own little Scottish contribution as I’m spending it here with them!
    A quick question maybe I’m totally missing it but when do you add the 1tsp of Vanilla extract ? I’m guessing when combining potato and icing sugar ?

    • Oh, that’s wonderful! I’m honoured that these will be part of your Aussie-Scottish family Christmas, Danielle. Oops, yes I indeed forgot to mention the vanilla at the potato and icing sugar part. Thank you. It’s now updated. Have a delicious holiday together.

    • How lovely is that? Congratulations on your engagement to a Scot and cheers to many Scottish snowballs!

  5. Part 2
    Well,its back to the drawing board,my Macaroons were a disaster,I left the potato/icing sugar mix in the fridge for 40 mins,then removed the bowl,and formed 25 balls and laid them on greasproof paper and returned them to the fridge to set,
    then I set about melting the chocolate and toasting my coconut,30 mins later,I was ready to dip the balls into the chocolate,I removed the balls from the fridge,but to my dismay they had not set sufficiently to be dipped in the molten chocolate,..so after some deliberation,I decided it was back to the drawing board and the balls are now at the bottom of my waste bin,
    I,’ll be back …as Arnold said,

    • So sorry to hear that, William. I’d suggest you let them set first before attempting the chocolate. It’s a really sticky business with it all but ensure you WEIGH your ingredients first; How much was your potato? And was the potato cooled completely first? The ratio is 1 potato to 4 of sugar at least: I know this is enormous, but that’s what makes the batter thicken. The batter really should be difficult to work with (so thick); if it’s not thick enough, then add more sugar until it gets to that stage. Next time, please don’t throw any batter in the bin: add more icing sugar to thicken and put back in the fridge 😉

      Don’t give up! You’ll have it next time.

    • Don’t put the fondant in the fridge! Fridges and fondant do not mix well together, they create moisture leaving your fondant soggy! Leave your macaroon balls to air dry for a few hours and just cover them with a bit of greaseproof paper. Also try using a ‘dry’ potato like a Maris Piper And if in doubt, add more icing sugar. Good luck!

      • Thanks Lauren. I have never had any problems in placing in the fridge – in fact, I still prefer this method. Thanks for adding Maris Piper – I’ve added it to the recipe. Here in France, we get Bintje potatoes at the market, which are so floury and perfect for this too.

  6. I’m a 66 year old man and live in Scotland i am in the process of making my first ever batch of macaroon balls,I’ve used an Albert Bartlett potato,and it seems to be dry enough,I’ve added 500g of icing sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence,the mix is now in the fridge
    for the chocolate coating I’m going to use 70% dark chocolate with sea salt,illlet you all know how they turn out,

  7. HELP!!! I am in Orkney (Scotland) and thought I would give these a go. My fondant is not getting thick enough to handle. Our humidity is in the 90’s here.

    • Hi Karen,
      Thrilled you’re making them – especially from Orkney! How cool is that? It’s not humidity that plays here but your potatoes, that’s why it’s a bit difficult to come up up with exact amount of ingredients, as it’s more of a good guide. I would suggest in this case that you add just a wee bit more potato (or even change variety – you need a good floury kind – as your local) and it will come together.

  8. Mini Express Christmas Puddings | Mad about Macarons! Make Macarons like the French - le blog in Paris says:

    […] on a roll again.  Have you noticed all the snowballs coming out of our kitchen lately and it hasn’t even been snowing yet in […]

  9. I’m so happy to hear about your Scottish treats – I’ll be visiting Scotland next fall and I always love to try out local treats!

  10. Would you be able to show a full picture of the Advent calendar? It looks very beautiful and so unique. Did you make it yourself? I enjoy reading your articles and look forward to receiving them. Your recipes are fantastic! Looking forward to buying your book. Merry Christmas!

    • Hi Shirley – I’ve put up a full picture of it on the MaM Facebook page. It was a present to the girls from their tonton Fabien, when they were babies – and we have used it every single year since! I’m sure it’s easy enough to make your own if you buy a lot of little bags to go with it and sew on ribbons.
      Thanks for your lovely comments. I’ll have to write another post, then! 😉

  11. What an amazing idea!
    Next will it be haggis macs for Bonne Annee?
    Only kidding 😀
    I once celebrated christmas in Hoik(sp) with crackers and haggis, the works.
    Unforgetable!
    Much chillier than Paris if I may say so in a big manor house.
    Leaving the bed was not a good idea.

  12. I find these very appealing and intriguing with the addition of the potato! I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a thing. But I think I must try it!
    So glad the weather has been ok, it’s been lovely here. We’ve had our first rain in months and months, and it’s nice. I feel somewhat bad saying I’m good with my two days of rain and I’m ready for the “regular” weather to return when we are in such a drought… but… I’m ready for the regular weather!! It’s been unusually warm for the last year or so, not complaining though. Hope you stay warm too!

    • It’s a pity we’re not all given a rain quota from up above, Kim. Love your cranberry jam, btw. May get Frenchie hubby to actually eat this, as he won’t even try cranberry sauce, bless him.

  13. These macaroon treats remind me of long ago when we did eat a whole Lees macaroon bar in one go. What a great idea to make mini macs.

    • They’re fun – and minus the other ‘extra’ ingredients at the bottom of the pack’s list! Vive homemade 😉

  14. These are both pretty and intriguing! I know that adding mashed potatoes to breads, brownies and cakes makes them moister so this adding it to candy is fascinating and makes me want to try them. Plus anything with chocolate and coconut! I think this is a really pretty and nice change from the usual holiday chocolate truffle.

    • You’d love them, Jamie, and yes, they are different! They are pretty sweet which means that a couple are just enough with a cuppa.

  15. I finally stopped setting up the advent calendar full of chocolates about 2 years ago! Oh, boy, those macaroons are done up right. What a terrific holiday bonbon. They are so cute all packaged up…too bad I’m not close enough to beg for my own little bag 🙂

Leave a Reply

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

Recipe Rating