Rothenburg Schneebälle /Snowballs/

Stanislava Dimitrova

I have been deprived of my kitchen for the past almost four months due to various reasons – work related travels to Bucharest, moving out of my apartment in Sofia, relocating to Nuremberg, etc. And I have suffered significantly not being able to cook and for that matter, very often, eat properly.

I have spent the holidays at my parent’s house enjoying my mother’s delicious meals, yet I was not able to personally cook any of the holiday dishes. Oh, there was one attempt to make honey biscuits, which didn’t end well, as I was not familiar with my mom’s oven particulars, and that was it.

I am currently stuck in a hotel apartment with a kitchen as big as a chemical toilet. There is no oven, no proper knife, not even enough utensils to enable the preparation of a decent meal. (Yes, it is that bad! The other night I chopped up cabbage salad with a Swiss army knife, and that my friends, is what I call, a culinary challenge!)

Anyway, to cut the long story short, I am now in the outskirts of Nuremberg, in the Franconia region of Bavaria, Germany and today I will tell you about my visit to the town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It is a popular tourist destination for its well preserved medieval old town. Despite the fact, that it was gloomy and rainy, the narrow cobble-stone streets, took us on a fairytale-like journey around the town. Needless to say, I was fascinated by the candle-lit windows of the Gasthäusen, the pastry shops, the bakeries and the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village.

The must-try local specialty is the Rothenburg Schneebälle. Schneebälle (Snowballs) are the traditional desert of the area and you may see them in almost any Konditorei in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. These snowballs are wide stripes of a special, quite hard dough consisting of eggs, butter and plum-brandy, formed into a ball, and then deep fried. The traditional ball is then dusted with powder sugar, but nowadays, the shops offer huge variety of snowball toppings and fillings - Cinnamon sugar, Chocolate, Amarettomarzipan, Nougat, Eggnodliquor and Almonds, to name a few.

The snowballs are quite hard and it takes a while to master the art of eating them. It is actually better to break the ball into little bits, before eating it. It is crunchy and tastes like shortbread biscuits but heavier. I couldn’t eat a whole one by myself.

Rothenburg Schneebälle (Snowballs)

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
2-3 tbsp butter
2 egg yolks
dash of dark rum/plum brandy
white wine

Combine all ingredients. Mix with hands. Add rum and wine to make dough. Knead about 15 to 10 minutes, adding flour from board as necessary, until dough feels like velvet; cover and let rest in refrigerator at least 1 hour.

Pinch a tangerine-size piece of dough and roll it out thin on floured board. Cut into stripes, lift weaving inbetween each slit, and carefully form a dough ball. Place in preheated deep-fryer. Fry until golden. Drain on paper and dust it with cinnamon sugar or powder sugar.

In the Diller Schneeballentraume Konditorei, a young man was making the pastry balls on the spot. The special utensil he was using to deep fry the dough balls is called Schneeballeneisen. This scoop like device is what keeps them in the right shape. The story of the origin of the Schneebälle claims, that the deep-fried short pastry, was served for the first time in 1719 on the occasion of an inspection of a mill.

Aside the famous Schneebälle, the town of Rothenberg ob der Tauber offers the wurst aficionado a rich variety of traditional Franken speacialties – Fränkische Bratwurst, Blutwurst and Fränkische Leberwurst. Any self respectable Gasthaus will serve the Bratwurst according to the tradition – grilled with saourkraut or potato salad, but with no mustard. And while the Bratwurst is made of finely chopped pork, veal or beef, the Blutwurst and the Leberwurst will impress you with much more distinctive taste.

The taste and appearance of the blood sausage are strongly influenced by the cooked pork rind and pork blood, which blend into a solid mass. Though alrady cooked and “ready to serve” the blood sausage is sometimes served warm.

The Leberwurst has a very distinctive liver taste, although, only 10-15% of the sausage is actually pork liver. It has also high fat content, which keeps it spreadable. Leberwurst is often served in traditional sandwiches or open-face sandwiches. Aside from the traditional ingredients – meat, fat, liver, black pepper, marjoram, thyme, ground mustard seed or nutmeg, in some regions, additional ingredients like organs, rind, garlic and onion are added.

And for the really passionate wurst lovers, the stores in Rothenburg ob der Tauber offer also Wurstcigarren, packed neatly in a pocket size box. Last, but not least, all these wurst specialties should be definitely served with traditional German Rye bread.


I stumbled upon your blog because I was courios, if there were any English translations of the Rothenburger Schneeballen around. Actually, I'm quite depressed that most tourists think they are hard and inedible and can only be used as actual balls. I can assure you, that you did not eat the speciality that they actually are, but the most touristy, disgusting thing that one can make out of dough. If it's filled or has anything other than powdered sugar on it - it's not the real thing. I love that stuff and I can only say: Dear tourists, please don't buy the Schneebälle in town and go to any village with a restaurant. Then get a real one if they have them, or don't eat them at all. They should be light and crumbly, not overly fatty, and not too sweet. If you have trouble eating it because it falls apart before you can put it in your moth, then it's right. If you have trouble because you can hardly bite it, do as the Rothenburgers do and give it to the doves (if they want it). By the way, I have my granny's recipie, even though I never tried it (I don't have the iron tongs): 18 eggs, 500g sugar, 1/2 l heavy cream, 1/8 l plum schnaps, 500g butter (liquid but not warm), 2Kg flour. They make them in huge amounts, because it's event-food :) Enjoy my home-town, it is beautiful :)

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