Sweet Spuds

Sunday, March 14, 2010 33 comments
Freshly-dug potatoes . . . or are they?

As much as I'd like to think that our Eating Your Words 2010 challenge is the most important event of this month, the honor rightly belongs to that most festive of spring holidays, St. Patrick's Day.

Having been officially recognized on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar for nearly 400 years, the feast day of Ireland's patron saint does have a few years on our humble little contest as well as a slightly larger following. So, in honor of the upcoming celebration on March 17th, I am heading across the Atlantic Ocean to join the merry group of bloggers who will be virtually marching in the Paddy's Day Food Parade, led by none other than the Grand Mistress herself, The Daily Spud.

One of the most unique hallmarks of St. Patrick's Day (aside from the boundless consumption of Guinness, whether it's in a pint glass or a chocolate cupcake) is its ability to transform individuals of different national and cultural backgrounds into one people: the Irishforaday. Once a year, this rather amorphous group gathers to engage in certain accepted rituals, such as wearing of the green, drinking of the Guinness and eating of the corned beef and cabbage. The scholarly and sober might see in these activities an example of Collective Effervescence:
"These rites are highly emotional collective experiences . . . which overcome the divisions among individuals and subgroups. They forge a collective identity that sustains members of society during periods of dispersion into routine (profane) activities."
from Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, WH Swatos (ed.)
While the above is referring to Émile Durkheim's theory of religion, I think it has appropriate application to the Irishforaday as 'divisions among individuals' dissipate, if only for 24 hours, to 'forge a collective identity' that transcends the 'dispersion' of people. How else to explain that St. Patrick's Day is celebrated with similar activities in such disparate locales, from Oslo, Norway to Buenos Aires, Argentina to Tokyo, Japan? Perhaps it is because we recognize, on some primal level, that beneath our individual national, cultural or ethnic identities, we all love a rip-roaring good time.

Although there are no widespread festivities on St. Patrick's Day in the Philippines, I have always enjoyed participating in this holiday - so much so that last year, I proclaimed my affinity with the people of Eire and listed the various ways in which our island nations were nearly identical. A huge part of that rapport has been my friendship with Daily Spud.

We started our blogs around the same time and I had just signed up on Foodbuzz when I spotted among the list of new members that singular anthropomorphic tuber that many have come to know and love so well. Though we have yet to meet in person, it's certain that Spud and I would get along as famously face-to-face as we do blog-to-blog. In the aforementioned post from last year, I noted that "the preponderance of potatoes in Ireland is matched only by the copiousness of coconuts in the Philippines", so what better way to celebrate both St. Patrick's Day and a dear friendship than with a little sweet something incorporating both the 'tater and the coconut?

I do believe it was Spud who first sent me a link to Irish Potato Candy, a confection unique to the Philadelphia area and most popular (naturally) during St. Patrick's Day. Shaped to look like miniature tubers, they are made with coconut, confectioner's sugar and milk or cream; alas, there is not a speck of spud in them. To find this magic combination, I had to range a bit further into the New England states, where I came across Rhode Island Potato Coconut Candy and Maine Needhams, two similar sweets that are reminiscent of Hershey's Mounds candy bar. More importantly, their recipes incorporate both potatoes and coconut!

Coconut-Tater Truffles

Although there are quite a few recipes for potato-coconut candies, I finally settled on this one from a lovely blog called The Cookie Shop. Except for adding some Merry's Irish Cream liqueur, I followed the recipe closely and instead exercised my imagination with its presentation, borrowing from the whimsical Oh Ryan's Irish Potatoes of Philadelphia to make Coconut Faux-tatoes, as well as the more traditional chocolate-enrobed Coconut-Tater Truffles.

To my friend The Daily Spud: this spud's for you!

Spud-shaped sweet? Priceless.

Coconut Faux-tatoes
Click here for the complete recipe at The Cookie Shop!

Making these candies couldn't have been more easy, although it was a little too easy to pinch a piece here and take a taste there - the yield was therefore a wee bit smaller than it might've been.  I also wanted to add some zing by splashing the mixture with Irish whiskey, but we were all out (Mr. Noodle has been duly chastised for letting the Jameson's run dry). Thankfully, a bottle of Merry's Irish Cream liqueur chilling in the 'fridge contributed the additional spirit.

Yields 30 pieces (more, if you can keep from nibbling throughout the process)


Cold plain mashed potatoes
Confectioner's (powdered) sugar, divided
Flaked coconut*
2-3 Tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur
Cocoa powder

To make: Combine mashed potatoes with a 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar and whisk well. As the potato and sugar mix, a very cool thing happens: it liquefies! Add liqueur, mix well, then add remaining sugar 1/2 cup at a time until a soft, dough-like consistency is achieved. Add flaked coconut, half amount at a time, and mix to combine well in the 'dough'.

*Note: The original recipe called for unsweetened coconut and for good reason - this candy is S-W-E-E-T! I only had sweetened flaked coconut but next time, I will definitely go with the recommendation or even use freshly grated coconut.

To prepare:

Spoon cocoa powder (mix with a bit of superfine/caster sugar for a lighter hue) in a small bowl. Pinch a grape-sized piece of candy mixture and roll between your palms, shaping into a potato-esque form. Lightly roll candy in the cocoa powder, brushing off excess. Repeat.

Best served immediately (that's not so hard, is it?) but may be stored in an airtight container.

Coconut-Tater Truffles

Potato-coconut candy mix
3.5 oz dark chocolate (I used 72% cacao)

A bi-cultural confection!

Prepare the above candy mixture, roll out small ball-shaped pieces and place on a waxpaper-lined tray or plate. Refrigerate for a few minutes while you temper the chocolate:

1. Break dark chocolate into equal-sized pieces and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 40 seconds, then stir the pieces.
2. Microwave for another 20 seconds, then stir chocolate again. Repeat 20-second heating, stirring after each, until only a few solid pieces remain. Remove from the microwave and stir well until the remaining chocolate fully melts.

Remove potato-coconut candies from the refrigerator and one by one, dip into tempered chocolate, working quickly as the chocolate may begin to harden. Place dipped candies back on waxpaper-lined tray and chill until chocolate shell is firm.

Store in an airtight container and keep chilled until ready to serve.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

And please check back for more exciting news about the Eating Your Words 2010 Challenge
Please join in the fun for a chance to win an Aunt Else's Aebleskiver pan!


  • Chef E said...

    OH my you two are quite a pair!

    Yikes, and is this for her St Paddys Day Parade?

    I am whirling around the room right now, you two have sent cookAppeal in a tale spin!!!

  • Caroline said...

    Who knew that potato combined with coconut would produce such a delicious confection. You got me fooled with that first pic, I say these can be served on April 1st as well! And how awesome that you found this recipe from a good blogging friend of mine, what a small world!

  • Daily Spud said...

    I am equal parts honoured and touched and proud - those coconut faux-tatoes have to be the best way to round off a Paddy's Day meal ever! And what a grand way to combine the best of Ireland and the Phillipines. I now owe you a rice recipe big time :)

  • Manggy said...

    I love these bi-cultural treats. So cute - especially the ones that look like real taters. (I'm sure you know we have no idea when St. Patrick's Day here is in the Philippines..)
    What amount of mashed potatoes would I need?

  • GrilledShane said...

    Great story about how you and the Spud became blog buddies! You two have a couple of the best blogs going. :)

    I am not a huge fan of coconut but these Coconut Faux-tatoes sound very different. Never would have thought to put coconut and potatoes together.

  • Jeanne said...

    Coconut and potatoes? What an interesting flavor combination! I'll definitely have to try the faux-tatoes. I thought they were real potatoes until I started reading!

  • gastroanthropologist said...

    Ah the fauxtatoes are so cute (and deceiving!). St Patricks Day is a pretty neat holiday. Everyone I know, Irish or not, celebrates it. A little green, a little guinness, potatoes - whats not to love. Gotta make this quick because I saw below something about aebleskiver...

  • Lori said...

    What a delicious combo you've made here. That first photo would fool anyone! They have to be delicious with the Irish Cream and anything covered in chocolate has my vote. I can definitely see the coconut potato going well together.

  • Phyllis said...

    So clever! I was totally fooled by that photo. I bet the addition of mashed potatoes make these treats melt in your mouth. Still haven't gotten around to trying the Oh Ryan's Irish 'potatoes', but think I'll try making these instead :)

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Hi everyone! Thanks for your comments - I finished up my assignment this evening (woohoo) so I'll be back with proper replies tomorrow. Don't forget to check out the Paddy's Day Food Parade at www.thedailyspud.com on Wednesday!

  • Karen said...

    I just love those little potatoes! When we were kids we'd mix mashed potatoes with powdered sugar, add mint flavoring and tint them a light pink and green. They were as good as any mint we could buy!

  • Admin said...

    Impressive!!! I especially love the potato coconut truffles. Will definitely make them. I can imagine the texture and even though I'm experiencing these truffles only in my head right now, I already know I like them.

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    OK, sitting on the sofa, AI in the background and ready to reply! 8-)

    Chef E - Potato and Coconut make a crazy combo for sure! Hope you didn't get too dizzy to try these out.

    5 Star - I hope she likes them! I just had to make the mini-potatoes . . .

    Caroline - How cool that The Cookie Shop is your friend! I'll have to ask for an intro - I love her stuff. These candies are delicious but I had to pace my husband. He was ready to eat it all at once!

    Daily Spud - One mini-tater is the perfect amount of sweet at the end of the meal. I read about your risotto - hope I'll get to see it as well on your site? 8-D Looking forward to tomorrow's parade!

    ValleyWriter - Thank you! When I saw the O'Ryans, I knew I had to try it, too. 8-)

    Jenn - The potato would seem to be the odd one out in that trio but it really works! Hope you'll enjoy.

    Manggy - The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of mashed potatoes, which was just 1 small spud. I didn't think there were any celebrations in PI on St. Pat's but my mom used to cook corned beef and cabbage every year when we were kids.

    GrilledShane - Thank you! She's great and I consider myself fortunate to have 'met' her! I'm not usually a sweetened coconut fan but these candies turned out so well. Good thing I made a small batch or I might've OD'd!

    Jeanne - I was so excited when I saw how the photos turned out! They're just the right size for popping into your mouth for a quick sweet treat. 8-)

    Rebecca - Oh, what are they called in Scotland? I'd love to know more! Thanks!

    Gastroanthropologist - Everyone is Irish on St. Paddy's Day, even a totally Filipino family! My mom went all out on this day and so I do, too. Hubs has asked for lamb tomorrow, so no corned beef and cabbage, but you can bet we'll have the Guinness!

    Did you see the aebleskiver . . .? Hope you'll join!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Lori - The turned out so well! The Irish Cream was more pronounced with truffles, perhaps because the cocoa-dusted one was a little sweeter. I had no idea that potato and coconut were so good together!

    Doggybloggy - Pommes du terre du coco: love it! I should box and beribbon as gifts. 8-)

    Kat - I had no idea they'd be so good!

    Joie - Being Irish is so easy - what's so hard about Guinness and some mash? 8-D

    Phyllis - Yes! The shredded coconut wasn't as clumpy and seemed more creamy. Apologies to you and Spud for mixing up the source of the Oh Ryan's link, and thanks for the inspiration!

    Juliana - Thank you! It's a surprising combination that works very well and is delicious!

    Divina - The mini-taters were quite sweet because of the dusting outside but the dark chocolate on the truffles made them taste richer!

    Penny - Thanks! Definitely give them a try!

    Karen - I never even knew you could do that with potatoes! I love the idea of tinting them - like a new kind of Easter egg!

    Bob - Glad you like! They're even more fun to eat. 8-)

    Leela - The coconut-potato mix was nice and creamy. Next time, I will use unsweetened coconut and maybe even run it through the food processor to break out the shred a bit more. Freshly grated coconut would be perfect! I know you'll enjoy these. 8-)

  • Trissa said...

    And a very Happy St. Patrick's day to you too! As you pointed out, this is hardly celebrated in the Philippines but since I moved to Australia, I've noticed more and more people celebrate (and they aren't even Irish)... I guess a good excuse to party ehy?

  • Reeni said...

    What creative candy treats! The truffles are especially delicious looking! I'm very curious about the taste and I love how easy they are to make.


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