The SFoodie Advent Calendar, Day 3: Coconut Snowball from Sweet Adeline
The SFoodie Advent Calendar counts down the days before Christmas/Nondenominationalwinterholiday, one treat at a time.
John Birdsall Sponge cake filled with coconut custard and rolled in nostalgia, $4.
The classic coconut snowball? Sort of a Ding Dong dressed up in a Christmas sweater. The first ones, called Sno Balls, rolled off the Hostess conveyor belt in 1947: chocolate cake covered with a gluey marshmallow membrane bristling with coconut shreds. By 1950 they'd been filled with the white fluff dear to Twinkies lovers; a few years later the marshmallow exoskeleton showed up poodle-skirt pink.
At Christmas Sno Balls turned white again ― my mom bought 'em for the kids' table, later an ice cream version that came stuck with its own little plastic holly sprig. The sugary, tongue-coating ice cream, the coconut shreds microscopically grainy, like flakes of 800-grit sandpaper, only chewy.
And while Boomers have attempted to excavate the Sno Ball and give it a foodie makeover ranging from meringues to cupcakes, nothing seemed like it could ever taste as satisfying as the original ― that is, until the coconut snowballs ($4) at Sweet Adeline, Jennifer Millar's bakeshop straddling the Oakland-Berkeley border.
They're not chocolate, or domed, but who cares, since the cream-colored sponge cake inside is astonishingly tender. The bakers split it and fill it with coconut custard, ice with buttercream and flock with coconut. It's even garnished with marzipan holly, definitely too good for the kids' table. More like something you polish off when you're alone in the kitchen, eyes closed.
Sweet Adeline Bakeshop: 3350 Adeline (at 63rd St.), Berkeley, 510-985-7381.