Saturday, March 9, 2013

Irish Potatoes, Now with Real Potatoes

I'm all about eating my vegetables, like carrot cake, zucchini bread and, this time of year, Irish potatoes. No, seriously, I do love vegetables and I eat my share but you know I love my sweets. Admittedly these Irish Potatoes are more candy then vegetable but I somehow feel less guilty eating them when I know they have actual potatoes in them. (And they're lower in fat then the ones that are made with cream cheese or peanut butter.) Not that you can tell, the potatoes just lend a good starchy base and a wonderful toothy texture to this cinnamon and coconut bonbon. And they don't need to be refrigerated, whereas the cream cheese versions tend to get mushy at room temperature.

I'm not sure about the rest of the country but Irish potatoes are a tradition around these parts. You start seeing them in stores at the beginning of March. Don't get me wrong, the store bought ones are good, but I like making my own because I can use a bit less sugar and of course the real potato. I've also used this same recipe for chocolate dipped eggs for Easter (egg shaped, of course). Seeing as Easter is so early this year I just might be doing that! 

Although I've given amounts here I must say for the record, there are a couple of variables in this recipe. For instance the size and variety of potato and the brand of coconut. Therefore I encourage you to use your best judgement and adjust the proportions if you need to.

Irish potatoes 

1 medium potato (the starchier the better)
4 cups confectioners' sugar (more or less)
2 1/2 cups shredded coconut (more or less)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cinnamon for rolling

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the potato. Lower the heat and cook for 30-45 minutes or until the spud is fork tender. 

When cool enough to handle (but still warm), peel the potato and mash along with coconut oil, making sure to get it as smooth as possible. Stir in the sugar, coconut and vanilla extract until everything is evenly distributed and well combined. Mixture will be soft, but at this point it should be able to hold it's shape, if not add a bit more coconut and/or sugar. Using a small scoop or tablespoon, portion the mixture into balls and let them chill for about an hour.

Once the candies are firm, pour about 1/4 cup of cinnamon into a medium bowl. Form the chilled balls into potato-like shapes and roll each in cinnamon, adding more cinnamon to the bowl if necessary. Place in mini cupcake papers. Serve immediately or store well wrapped at room temperature. Makes about 24-30 bon bons.

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