For most families in Bonavista Bay, the Christmas season seems to officially commence when the alpha grandmother of the family makes the first batch of snowballs.
This matriarchal act occurs when the hairs on Nan's arms suddenly stand on end and she rises from her rocking chair with surprising vitality to begin her task with a measure of joy and sugar.
The Pop of the family will then sigh and rise himself, for he knows he now has to put up the outdoor lights.
Soon the phone calls are made to inform the rest of the family that indeed, The Snowballing is upon Nan, and Christmas has begun.
I confess the snowball recipes I grew up with were almost always made with chocolate cake mix transformed into a kind of fudge with ample amounts of butter and sugar. I learned these recipes not only from my grandmother but from my Aunt Sherry, who always made them best.
I was working as a cook and baker at a camp in Labrador a few Christmas seasons back, and I asked the camp manager if I could make some snowballs for the men and women who no doubt missed the holiday treat others back home were enjoying.
He said no at first, thinking it would take too much time.
Still, aside from cake mix I had everything else I needed, and had also made the mistake of already telling a few campers I'd do my best to have some snowballs ready that week.
Loathe to disappoint, I researched some alternative snowball recipes and came up with a few that called for simpler ingredients in place of chocolate cake mix as a base.
I used them as a guide to create my own recipe, which I affectionately call...
Let It Snowballs
3 cups white sugar
3/4 cup butter
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup of coconut, for the body
1 1/4 cups fresh milk
13 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 cup red and green sprinkles
2 cups coconut, to roll balls in
Combine milk, butter and sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a rolling boil
over medium heat for around 5 minutes. Be sure not to stir ingredients as they could lose their stickiness in the process.
Add rolled oats, the body coconut and cocoa powder to a large bowl and mix together.
Add boiled mixture to dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Don't worry if the mixture appears runny at this point as it needs to chill for an hour and a half to firm up.
Once chilled, roll fudge into balls about 1.5 inches in diameter.
Roll balls first in sprinkles until evenly coated. Fold sprinkle ball over on itself until sprinkles are smoothly incorporated into the fudge; then roll into a ball again.
Roll a final time in rolling coconut. This process will usually yield about 45 snowballs.
I made a total of 130 Let It Snowballs for the workers at camp through the early December days.
I made a score of similar batches of varying styles, including the Chef of Schefferville Snowballs rolled not only in coconut, but in a reddish-brown cocoa powder to resemble the red iron dust and snow that littered the surrounding landscape of the camp.
I was a little surprised to see as soon as I made my first batch, the camp residents spruced the place up a bit (literally) with a Christmas tree, as well as a scattered sprinkle of other Christmas decorations throughout the cold and rusty camp.
I couldn't help but shudder at the thought that perhaps the Snowballing had come upon me as well that year, and I had ushered in the Christmas season like my grandmother and her grandmother before her.
Let it snow! http://www.thepacket.ca/opinion/the-food-dude-pear-fectly-preserved-memories-162348/
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