As a resident of Philadelphia for over 5 years now, I've come to know a lot about foods that have roots in Philly. There's the cheesesteak (duh, whiz wit please!), root beer, the soft pretzel, the hoagie, Italian ice, Tastykakes, pork roll, Peanut Chews, and oh yeah — scrapple! (If you don't know what scrapple is, maybe just leave it alone...)
One more on the list of Philly faves: Irish potato candy.
There's nothing inherently Irish about these candies unless you count the fact that they look like potatoes. Note that they look like potatoes, but do not taste like potatoes. They taste like an injection of sweet, coconut-y deliciousness. Such a confused confection, no?
These candies are a classic Philadelphia St. Patrick's Day treat. So, in honor of the holiday (happy St. Patrick's Day friends!), I thought I would try my hand at this Philly tradition.
Irish Potato Candy (makes 2-3 dozen candies)
1/4 cup (4 tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioner's sugar, plus more for rolling
Pinch of salt
8 oz. shredded coconut, toasted
1 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 tbsp. cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark — oh yum!)
3 tbsp. cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place coconut in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Toast in the oven for about 4 to 6 minutes until barely golden — keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn! Set aside and let cool.
- In a large bowl, combine softened butter and cream cheese. Then blend in the honey, salt, and vanilla extract. Stir in the powdered sugar one cup at a time. (It seems like a huge quantity of confectioner sugar to mix into the butter/cream cheese, but stick with it! It will eventually all combine, and the mixture will be thick.) Add the toasted coconut and combine well.
- Take two small bowls — put 1/3 cup of powdered sugar in the first and stir together the cinnamon and cocoa powder in the second. Grab about 2 teaspoons worth of candy dough and dip it into the confectioner's sugar. Roll in your hands into a small, potato-shaped ball. Then coat the ball with the cocoa and cinnamon mixture and place on a cookie sheet. Once all of the dough is rolled and coated, refrigerate for about an hour. Keep candies in the fridge for up to one week.
Click here for the printable recipe!