Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Irish Potatoes

I have very distinct memories of making Irish Potatoes when I was in elementary school and it being a tradition for St. Patrick's Day celebrations to have Irish Potatoes. But every year when I say "I should make Irish Potatoes", I'm met with confused looks and "what's that?" remarks. I wondered if this was actually something that I made up and didn't actually happen, like the unicorn (or leprechaun?) of St. Patrick's Day treats. After years of doubt, I finally Googled it.

So let's set the record straight: I did not make up the existence of these "Irish Potatoes", they're a real thing! Apparently they hail from my native region of Philadelphia which may explain why no one else has heard of them (get on it, Boston).

Some key facts about these treats:
  1. There are no potatoes involved in Irish Potatoes, it's actually a candy of sorts.
  2. Apparently no one outside of the Philadelphia area has ever had or heard of Irish Potatoes--until now!
  3. Irish Potatoes are basically made of frosting formed to look like potatoes.
So there we have it. I did not make them up out of thin air, they were a staple of my March's. And they're remarkably easy to make. The butter and cream cheese are combined to make a creamy base (sounds like frosting to me). Vanilla extract and powdered sugar are added next, continuing to make the recipe sound like frosting. The consistency of the batter is much thicker than frosting though so it should form a solid ball before you fold in the coconut.

The last part is very hands-on and messy. You form the dough into little bite-sized 'potatoes' and roll them in cinnamon to get the earthy potato color.

It's dawned on my you could roll these in bright sprinkles to be Easter eggs too or (as the linked recipe suggests, you can roll in melted chocolate).

Irish Potatoes
based on Food.com's recipe

  • 1/4 cup of softened butter
  • 4 oz. softened cream cheese (half a brick)
  • 16 oz. powdered sugar (1 package) 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups coconut flakes (if you reeeeally don't like coconut, you can probably skip this)
  • 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon
  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Slowly add the powdered sugar and vanilla to the butter and cream cheese until incorporated. This will form a ball of dough that's thick.
  3. Fold in the coconut to equally distribute throughout the dough. If you're making these for Easter, you can add food coloring at this point (or you can add some green food coloring for St. Patty's Day).
  4. Roll small amounts of dough between your hands to form a bite-sized potato. These are very rich so shouldn't be larger than a chocolate truffle.
  5. Roll the potatoes in cinnamon (or sprinkles for festiveness) to cover.
  6. Makes a lot of potatoes, 5 dozen

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