Review: Schneeballe from Schneeballen Korea (German Cookies You Eat With a Hammer)

Like any city, Seoul goes through seemingly random food trends and fads. Once such a trend hits, you're really bound to see the same food or dish almost everywhere from street food carts to even high end restaurants at times.

One such trend that has hit Seoul recently is a type of German cookie/pastry called Schneeball. This cookie is made by taking rolled out shortcrust dough and cutting out strips. These strips are then arranged over a stick into the shape of a ball and then deep fried and then dusted with confectioner's sugar or coated with other toppings.

I first began seeing these curious shaped ball cookies on the streets of Myeongdong where these strange ball-like cookies were being sold from street cart vendors. They didn't resemble anything Korean and I presumed somewhere some bakery had made this a hit and had sparked the inevitable copycats on the streets.

My assumptions proved correct as I found out a company called Schneeballen Korean has aggressively been ramping up their presence with their own stores and department store corners.

Picture from the Schneeballen Korea Facebook page



My friend, on her way from stopping by a department store, decided to graciously surprise me with a pack one day where we sampled the cookie.

Five total schneeballens within

As I've stated before, I'm not much of a sweets guy so I might have ended up buying one one day out of sheer curiosity but I would've never bought myself such a large pack O_O

Here's the explanation on the back of the wrapping

Though originally Schneeballe come only dusted with sugar, at the stores you can get an assortment of different flavors including some curious ones involving garlic or onion. 

The first one I opened up was a banana flavored one which, admittedly, I was excited at first thinking it was some cheese-itz flavored one ^^;;

A schneeball next to my camera lens cover for a size comparison

Each ball was big enough to fit in one's hand. The banana flavored one came dusted with a bright yellow powder. Though I didn't have the traditional wooden mallet on hand, I took out my regular hammer and, after wrapping up the schneeball, gave it a few good whacks.

After whack whacking

Cracking it open, I could see the layer of icing that had been drizzled over the cookie before receiving its banana powder dusting. 

The cookie was crunchy, slightly harder and denser than a tortilla chip. The icing provided the sweet kick while the banana powder brought out flavors reminiscent of the popular banana milk around Korea.

Over the next few days (schneeballe apparently have a long shelf life being a dry cookie) I tried out the other flavors including...

Chocolate...

White chocolate...

Strawberry...

And now I'm down to a coconut flakes one.

After sampling a few of the cookies I can't say I'm  impressed with them. The various flavorings and coatings all taste quite a bit artificial... like artificial strawberry milk, artificial banana, etc. Given the gourmet packaging and such, I thought a more luxurious taste would naturally follow but they're the sort of taste and flavors one can easily get from the cookies and other baked treats from your local convenience store. The cookies themselves without the coating and flavoring are also nothing special... just fried bits of dough (there's a reason they come wrapped in wax paper...)

Now, I can't say my assessment of the schneeballe from Schneeballen Korea is the real deal since I haven't had an authentic one from Germany. Once I perused the Schneeballen Korea site, I found the brand is one that is under a "Sand and Food" company which is a Korean corporation. In addition to the Schneeballen Korea brand, it manages a line of cinnamon buns and cafes too. 

It seems we have yet another case of a Korean corporation looking to make a new big food trend by taking in a food from abroad, Korean-izing it, packaging it nicely, getting some stars to advertise it (in Schneeballen Korea's case, Tiger JK and Yoon Mirae) and including fancy words appealing to Koreans ("European Style Bakery" for example). The fact they're also trying to market it as a high end product is evident to me as they are aggressively opening corners within department stores. 

I was passing by a Schneeballen Korea store in Hongdae the other day and saw each cookie being sold for over 4,000 won! They're even looking to profit off the wooden mallets!

Oh my...

For that price and for what these cookies essentially are (fried bits of dough rolled in cheap flavorings) this sort of price is definitely not justified. I'd understand the price if the toppings were more luxurious (real pistachio bits or real dark chocolate, etc) or even as far fetched as them bringing in some master German baker who churned these out from a bakery somewhere in Seoul... but sorry Schneeballen Korea, you're not getting a won from me.

And I'm fairly certain your trend will be short-lived.... (oops, I said it!)

Address and phone number: If you find you still must take yourself to try one of these gimmick cookies you can find a list of stores and contacts at their homepage

Tip: The streets of Myeongdong, as of May, 2013, currently has street vendors copying the copycat brand for about half the price. I haven't sampled the ones from the street vendors but methinks I will find it similar taste-wise...