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Thursday 19 March 2020

Irish Potato Candies

Yesterday was St Patrick's Day.

Unlike previous years, there was no celebrating with a big parade, there was no catching up with friends and there were no celebrations at school. The kids did wear green though and insisted on pinching me every chance they got - until I outsmarted them by changing into a green dress they didn't know I owned! Ha!

Mathilde got into the spirit by making lots of drawings of leprechauns, rainbows and four leaf clovers - which then became five, six, seven and even eleven leaf clovers. Extra luck, right?

Usually I'd make some sort of Irish inspired meal for dinner, but with supermarkets kind of crazy at the moment, getting the ingredients for shepherd's pie or corned beef was a little tricky. What I did have the ingredients for in my pantry, however, was Irish Potato Candy.

"What's Irish Potato Candy?" I hear you ask. Delicious, that's what!

Do you remember the potato themed birthday party that I threw for Lola back in October? A potato party? Yep, she's weird! Anyway, for her birthday party I made all sorts of potato themed foods, but the problem was that as much as she likes potatoes as an item, she doesn't like eating them. Not even as fries! Remember, I said she's weird! While trying to come up with non-potato potato themed foods I remembered a candy that my grandma used to make when I was a kid. Small misshapen balls of coconut fudge covered in cocoa that looked like mini potatoes. I hadn't eaten one of these Irish Potatoes, as we called them, since I was a kid, but I knew right away that they would be perfect. And they were!

They were also perfect for St Patrick's Day so yesterday I raided the pantry for all the ingredients and got to work making them. And this time I took photos so I could share the recipe here with you.

Just like actual potatoes, these little treats are perfect for any day of the year, and the ingredients are all baking staples that you likely have at home already.

What you'll need:
1 Stick (1/4 lb) butter, softened
2/3 Cup sweetened condensed milk
2 Teaspoons vanilla essence
1 Teaspoon salt
6 Cups powdered sugar
8 Ounces finely shredded coconut
1 - 2 Tablespoons cocoa

In a large bowl mix together the softened butter, condensed milk, vanilla essence and salt. Mix until smooth.

Slowly add the powdered sugar mixing as you go.

Add the coconut and stir through with a wooden spoon until mixed through. The mixture should be quite stiff by now.

Take a ziplock bag or similar (I used a Stasher bag) and pour about a third of the cocoa into the bottom. You'll use this for adding the "dirt" to the potatoes once they've been shaped. You don't want to add it all at once otherwise the first few potatoes you make will end up with too much cocoa covering them.

To shape the potatoes roll small balls of the mixture with your hands to into oblong potato shapes. They don't have to be perfect (real potatoes aren't) but it's best if you keep them a fairly similar size.

Drop two or three of the potatoes into the bag of cocoa at a time and give it a gentle shake until the potatoes are covered. Shake off any excess cocoa and place the potatoes onto a plate.

Continue forming potato shapes out of the mixture and covering them with cocoa. Top up the bag with cocoa as needed.

Once all of the potatoes have been formed and covered in cocoa "dirt" place them in the fridge to set. This should only take about an hour but you can leave them to set overnight if you prefer. The longer they're refrigerated the harder they'll be.


Don't they look just like real mini potatoes? 

I personally like the coconut to be extra fine, and back home in Australia I would use dessicated coconut. However, I have not been able to find dessicated coconut in the US so instead I buy shredded coconut and put it in the blender to shred it even finer.

If you prefer, you can use cinnamon instead of cocoa to coat the potatoes.

Your hands will end up pretty sticky and covered in cocoa after just a few potatoes. If you prefer, wear disposable gloves to keep your hands clean (and your potatoes free of any germs).


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