St. Patrick’s Day Irish Potato Candy

I know it is way past the actual holiday, but my guy had a food day today and the theme was Irish foods and hot sandwiches. I’m a huge fan of themed food occasions, so I always try to send something fun and unique. I’d never made soda bread before and thought about doing that, but someone else had already taken it. I pondered for a bit and thought about plain old cookies, then remembered seeing something about Irish potato candy and thought I’d give that a shot.

I found various recipes, but it looked like I had some basic options: potato, sugar, coconut; potato, sugar; cream cheese, sugar, coconut; cream cheese, sugar, walnuts; potato, sugar, coconut, peanut butter. I’m not a fan of coconut and out of fear no one would eat them, I kinda crossed out all the coconut ones (although they say if you add it they taste like a Mounds bar). I thought about the cream cheese ones, but worried if they sat out they could get weird, and when I priced out the walnuts, it was a bit much. I was very curious about the ones that used peanut butter, but they didn’t look like potatoes, and that was what I was really after.

The basic recipe I used was this one:

  • 1/2 cup mashed potatoes (baked or cooked)–NO MILK OR BUTTER ADDED
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 pound sifted 10x sugar

Combine potato, vanilla 1 cup at a time of the 10x sugar to form a soft non sticky dough. Take note on this: Mashed will use more sugar than the baked. Baked will be drier. You may also add some shredded coconut (to taste) at this point, if you’d like.

Working with 1 teaspoon of mixture for each candy, shape into small irregular spheres (like new potatoes). Set on wax paper to dry slightly before coating. If you coat before drying out your cinnamon will be wet and blotchy.

After they dry a little, toss candies a few at a time in a plastic bag with cinnamon. Shake off excess, or use a pastry brush to remove extra. Store in cool dry place.

I know, powdered sugar and potato sounds like a weird combination to try, but I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. A word of warning though: they are very, VERY sweet, so using a teaspoon is highly recommended (maybe even a scant teaspoon). To be authentic, I made a few of mine a bit larger than a teaspoon so they’d look more like potatoes. I also sprinkled a bit of cinnamon and a tiny touch of cocoa powder on the balls while they were still wet; it helped give the appearance of darker, “dirtier” spots on the potatoes. I even got a toothpick and put some eyes in a few of them.

Here’s a few other versions you could try:

Potatoes w/coconut:

  • Mashed potatoes (boiled potatoes, mashed with no butter, milk or salt)
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Coconut
  • Cinnamon

Mix a small amount of mashed potatoes (start with a 1/4 cup or less)with a large amount of confectioners’s sugar. Mix together until you have a consistency stiff enough to shape into potatoes, but not too stiff.  Add coconut to taste, kneed until smooth.  Shape into little potatoes and roll in cinnamon.
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Sweet “Potatoes” (From Martha Stewart)

  • 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons softened cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups walnuts (toasted, cooled, and finely chopped)
  • Ground cinnamon
Beat butter and cream cheese with vanilla and salt until pale and fluffy. Mix in sugar and walnuts until smooth. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Roll dough (1 tablespoon each) between your hands. Shape into “potatoes.” Roll in cinnamon; brush off excess with a pastry brush. To create “eyes,” stick in walnut pieces. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Makes about 40 potatoes.
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Cream cheese & coconut:
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
In a medium bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar; beat until smooth. Using your hands if necessary, mix in the coconut. Roll into balls or potato shapes, and roll in the cinnamon. Place onto a cookie sheet and chill to set. If desired, roll potatoes in cinnamon again for darker color. Makes about 60.
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Potatoes & peanut butter:
  • 2 (1 lb. each) boxes powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. hot mashed potatoes, drained
  • 1 sm. jar crunchy peanut butter

Mix sifted sugar into potatoes a little at a time by hand. (Don’t panic when potatoes liquify as the first sugar is added. This is what it’s supposed to do. Just keep adding sugar until it is pastry consistency.) Sprinkle wax paper with additional powdered sugar. Take baseball-sized ball of mixture and roll out like pastry. Spread with peanut butter and roll like a jelly roll. Wrap rolls in plastic wrap; chill and slice.

On a sad note, most everyone backed out of doing Irish-type food so it was really me and some tasty sounding Stout cupcakes that made it (that I know of). However, the potatoes were so cute and the guy liked them so much, I think I might have to make another batch next year.
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