Scottish Macaroon Bar Snowballs

You read me correctly. I normally talk about French macarons, or the difference between Macarons and Macaroons – but this time I’m rolling my sleeves up by converting traditional Scottish Macaroon Bars into these Scottish Macaroon Bar Snowballs!

Scottish Macaroon Bar Snowballs

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, the bags are expected to be more thought-provoking or just filled with chocolate.

She’s already worried about the 4th, as that bag looks empty but hopefully, she’ll remember that day well, as there’s a wee note inside for something a bit bigger that didn’t make it into the bag.  I get as much fun out of it as she does – but that’s what it’s all about, see? Oh, hokey cokey cokey …

advent calendar bags for macarons

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

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!

Scottish Macaroon Bar Snowballs

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 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, west of Paris. 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 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, 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

Scottish Macaroon Bar Snowballs Recipe

Inspired by Jacqueline’s blog at  I’ve found that the amount of sugar will vary, depending on how dry your potato is (the drier the potato the better, Russett – I use Bintje in France).  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 Macaroon Bars – but at the time of writing I hadn’t discovered her yet!

Makes approx. 36 balls

Preparation Time: 40 minutes

Chilling Time: Approx. an hour total

1 potato (about 120g) a dry potato like Russett, Maris Piper or Bintje
460g icing (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 completely.

mashing potato to make sweet macaroon bar treats

Mashing potato for sweet 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.)  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.

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

Scottish Macaroon Bar snowballs


And, like macarons, they’re GLUTEN FREE!


Scottish Macaroon Bar Snowballs

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32 replies
  1. Graham Toal
    Graham Toal says:

    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?

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      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!

      • Graham Toal
        Graham Toal says:

        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.

  2. Danielle McDonald
    Danielle McDonald says:

    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 ?

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      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.

  3. William omelasz
    William omelasz says:

    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, 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,

    • Jill Colonna
      Jill Colonna says:

      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.

    • Lauren James
      Lauren James says:

      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!

      • Jill Colonna
        Jill Colonna says:

        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.

  4. William omelasz
    William omelasz says:

    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,

  5. 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.

    • 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.

  6. 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!

    • 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! 😉

  7. 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.
    Much chillier than Paris if I may say so in a big manor house.
    Leaving the bed was not a good idea.

  8. 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!

    • 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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 🙂


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