In the South, there’s this super-sweet candy made from peanut butter and potatoes.
But this Irish potato candy is something else entirely.
In fact, this Irish dessert doesn’t contain potatoes at all. Instead, it’s all about how it looks rather than what’s inside.
A mix of coconut, cream cheese, and cinnamon, it’s a creamy, sugary treat that’ll satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.
So, are you ready to learn more about this one-of-a-kind dessert?
Let’s dive into the world of homemade Irish potato candy.
Irish Potato Candy
I have no idea why this is called Irish potato candy.
If I looked hard enough, I could probably find out, but general sources on the subject are unclear.
As I mentioned, the candy looks like tiny potatoes, and it is, in fact, candy.
So I understand those parts of the name. However, Irish potato candy is most certainly not from Ireland.
Instead, it seems to have originated in Philadelphia as a St. Paddy’s Day treat.
Why it got the ‘Irish’ designation is anyone’s guess.
The best description of the candy I’ve ever heard is “coconut cream cheese buttercream balls rolled in cinnamon.”
But I guess that doesn’t roll off the tongue as well.
Here’s everything you’ll need to make these little potato yum balls: (Spoiler alert: it’s not a lot!)
- Cream cheese. Stick to full-fat cream cheese for this recipe. The low-fat stuff doesn’t work as well. Be sure to let it warm to room temperature before using it.
- Butter. This, too, should be warmed to room temperature before using it. I use salted butter for that little hint of contrast. However, some people prefer unsalted butter.
- Confectioners’ sugar. You can substitute powdered sugar here if that’s what you have. Both give you a silky smooth filling that’s impossible to resist.
- Vanilla extract. Vanilla extract provides warmth and subtle sweetness to the candy.
- Flaked coconut. Sweetened flaked coconut is the only way to go with this recipe. Don’t use shredded instead. (It’s a texture thing.)
- Ground cinnamon. The spiciness of cinnamon pairs perfectly with the candy’s sweetness. Be sure to add enough to make them look like actual potatoes.
Instead of cinnamon, some people dip their candy in melted chocolate.
I don’t because they no longer look like potatoes. Plus, they taste too much like Mounds with chocolate.
I prefer the original recipe, but try it if you’re a chocolate lover.
How to Make Irish Potato Candy
Making this candy is super simple. Here’s what you’ll do:
1. Let the ingredients warm up. The cream cheese and butter should be room temperature before you use them. They won’t mix well if they aren’t.
2. Make the “dough.” Combine the warmed cream cheese and butter first. Once it’s well mixed, add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Keep mixing until everything is smooth.
Finally, add the coconut, but don’t overmix it.
3. Roll the dough in cinnamon. Once the candy is ready, shape it into small oval-shaped potatoes. Then, roll them carefully in the cinnamon to coat them.
4. Chill. Place the “potatoes” on a baking sheet and refrigerate them for several minutes. They will harden and set. After they’ve hardened some, you can roll them in cinnamon again if you want.
Doing so will make them even darker and more potato-like.
5. Serve them and enjoy! Just don’t eat so many that you get sick. They’re pretty hard to stop once you get started.
Tips for the Best Irish Potato Candy
Keep the following tips in mind while making this candy. You’ll also find a few variations at the end.
- Chill them before rolling them if necessary. Sometimes, the candy is pretty sticky. If that’s the case and you can’t roll them in cinnamon, refrigerate them first. Then, roll them in cinnamon only after they’ve hardened.
- Add ingredients to tweak the consistency. For example, add a bit of heavy cream if the mixture is too thick. If you get it too sticky, add another dash of confectioners’ sugar.
- Swap out cocoa for cinnamon. You won’t get the spice, but you’ll trade it in for chocolate. Many people would consider that a great trade.
- Make it nutty! You can add chopped nuts to the batter before shaping it. It’ll give you a nutty flavor and a crunchier texture.
- Go for minty potatoes. Some peppermint extract will add a delightfully fresh and minty flavor to your candy.
There’s another variation that mixes peanut butter in the dough. Then, you’ll dip them in melted chocolate.
People call it a ‘Reese’s Irish potato.’ I haven’t tried it, but I’ll bet it’s yummy.
How to Store
Unfortunately, this candy isn’t something you can leave out on the counter for days.
It has too many ingredients that require refrigeration.
Instead, store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 10 to 14 days.
Stack the balls, not touching, with parchment paper between any layers. (They’ll stick together if they touch.)
Follow the same storage instructions for putting them in the freezer.
Use them within 3 months, and let them thaw in the fridge overnight before serving them.
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