The end of the year is celebrated in Holland as it is in so many other countries: friends and family gather, with good food, lovely drinks and with a certain sense of excitement about the change of the year that will happen at midnight. It's virtually the same in many other places in the world, but what sets the Dutch apart is the food that we eat to celebrate the event with: deep-fried goodies such as oliebollen or deep-fried dough balls (presumably the predecessor of the American donut), deep-fried apple slices (appelbeignets)and many other goodies that are available from stands around town or made at home that help us slide into the new year with a greasy grin and a full belly.

One of those golden, deep-fried beauties that shows up in every older Dutch recipes cookbook is the so-called "sneeuwbal", or snowball. A deep-fried (what else?) puffy ball of dough, studded with raisins and candied fruits, filled with whipped cream and dusted with powdered sugar, used to be standard fare for the New Year's celebration, cozily sharing a platter with the formerly mentioned oliebollen and appelbeignets. In later Dutch cookbooks, the sneeuwballen are no longer mentioned.

And I am *not* surprised! This is the third year I try to make these things and I've just about given up. For some reason I just can't get them to puff up in the hot oil and instead of snowballs, I get lumps. Ugly, squishy, heavy, oily lumps, no matter how low I turn the heat. So, as so many times before, I re-read all the recipes in the cookbooks, went back online, and re-read every possible online snowball recipe to see what I could have missed. I just about started to suspect that nobody had actually ever made these themselves but just copied the recipe ad nauseam, until I came across a short video from nobody else but Cees Holtkamp. Yes, that Cees Holtkamp, possibly the most famous patissier in Holland.

And guess what? Instead of deep-frying them, he bakes them, just like Bossche Bollen or bananensoezen. He must have had no luck with frying them either, is my guess. (Just kidding, Mr. Holtkamp, just kidding!!) So if Cees bakes them, so can I! Problem solved and pride a tad less damaged. Here we go!

1 cup of water
4 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of flour
4 eggs
Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon of candied fruit mix
1 tablespoon of raisins

16 oz of heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons of powdered sugar

Bring the water, butter and salt to a boil. Pour the flour in and stir until the flour comes together in a ball, and clings to the spoon. Take the pan off the stove and stir in the eggs, one at a time, until the dough is shiny and has absorbed all the egg. Carefully fold in the candied fruit mix and the raisins.

Preheat the oven to 375F. On a silicone mat or on parchment paper on a baking sheet, place large heaps of batter, or pipe them. This will make 12 medium size puffs or 6 large ones.

Bake them for twenty five minutes or until golden and puffy. In the meantime, beat the whipping cream stiff with four tablespoons of powedered sugar. When the puffs have cooled, fill a pastry bag with a star tip with the whipped cream, insert the tip in the bottom and fill the snowballs up with whipped cream.

Sprinkle with plenty of powdered sugar and serve.

Wishing everybody a wonderful, healthy and fun filled 2012!

Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!!!!!!

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