Scottish Macaroon Bar Snowball gluten-free recipe

Scottish Macaroon Bar Snowballs

Scottish Macaroon Bar Snowball gluten-free recipe

We have been lucky lately in Paris.  Up until Sunday the weather has been awfully kind, thank you.  Now we’re making up for lost chilly time, as December has well and truly hit us with a blast from the Arctic, or so it seems.

The advent calendar is up, filled with riddles and surprises; I didn’t think that Lucie would still want it this year but I suppose at 12, she’s clutching on to childhood.  She’s already worried about the 4th, as that bag looks empty but hopefully, she’ll remember that day well.  I get as much fun out of it as she does – but that’s what it’s all about, hey? Oh, hokey cokey pokey …

advent calendar bags for macarons

What could be in the bags, do you think? Er, macarons?

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! It isn’t  a macaroon as such – you know, the sticky baked coconut confection using egg whites, sugar and coconut – and it’s far removed from (read nothing like!) a Parisian macaron, made with ground almonds (almond flour), sugar and egg whites, that’s in my book.  No, a 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 chocolate and toasted coconut.

Lee's orginal macaroon bar

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!  And the song that accompanied it was pretty catchy…

The other day I wanted to prepare some British treats for the Lycée International’s school Christmas Fête. Why didn’t I just make shortbread?  Since I was already on a roll with chocolate-coconut snowballs, I wanted to give these a go and besides, they look pretty Christmassy, don’t they?

To be honest, I couldn’t manage to eat a whole bar these days, as it really is far too sweet but the sensation of the fondant centre and the memory makes this smaller snowball size just perfect! I discovered a fellow Scot’s blog at TinnedTomatoes.com, where Jacqueline posts delicious vegetarian and vegan recipes. She had also produced smaller macaroon bars but in the smaller guise as snowballs. Parfait! So time to get rolling…

Scottish macaroon bar homemade snowballs, just like Lee's classic

Macaroon Bar Snowballs Recipe

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.  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!

Makes approx. 36 balls

Preparation Time: 40 minutes

Chilling Time: Approx. an hour total

1 dry potato (about 120g)
460g icing or powdered sugar (more or less)
1 tsp vanilla extract (or vanilla powder)
200g dark chocolate (64% cocoa solids – I used Nestlé’s Corsé brand)
200g finely shredded coconut

1.  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.

mashing potato to make sweet macaroon bar treats

Mashing potato for sweet treats?

2. Using a wooden spoon, mix in 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 up.

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.  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 (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.

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 (I didn’t and even answered the ‘phone – that was mad.)

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.

homemade Scottish Macaroon Bar Snowballs packaging

Here are some I made earlier, all packaged up and ready to party at the Christmas Fête… Wish I’d manage to see the expressions at the potato ingredient!

Scottish macaroon bar snowballs

And I forgot to mention: like macarons, they’re gluten-free!

Ready to chill out with the holiday preparations?

Have fun!

18 replies
  1. Karen
    Karen says:

    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.

    Reply
    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      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.

      Reply
  2. Shirley Kern
    Shirley Kern says:

    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!

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      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! 😉

      Reply
  3. Parisbreakfast
    Parisbreakfast says:

    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.

    Reply
  4. Kim - Liv Life
    Kim - Liv Life says:

    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!

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      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.

      Reply
  5. June S
    June S says:

    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.

    Reply
  6. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    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.

    Reply
  7. Liz
    Liz says:

    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 🙂

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] 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 […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

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