I had never heard of Irish Potatoes until I was a freshman in college. My good friends Bridget (yes, she is Irish) and Chelsea grew up near Philly and thought it was crazy that I had never heard of these things. They said “Irish Potatoes” I thought “the Potatoes my mom boils in with her Corned Beef for St. Patrick’s Day”. They kindly shook their heads and made sure we somehow got some of these delicious dessert. They are called Irish Potatoes because they look like potatoes – but they are really not Irish at all and a really more of a “Philly Thing” and have been a Philly tradition for more than 100 years. Not really sure where they got their start, but there is a little bit of information over at Wikipedia. One of the most popular places to purchase your Irish Potatoes (if you prefer that to making them) is from Philadelphia based Oh Ryans.
The typical type of Irish Potatoes that I had been introduced to is a cream cheese/butter based recipe. After doing my (always truthful, haha) Wikipedia research though it talked about a potato based recipe. I figured I would taste test these two recipes with friends and report which is the ‘ultimate Irish potato’ recipe. I have bad news for you though – it was split down the middle! Half of my taste-testers liked the potato ones while half liked the cream cheese ones. The Cream Cheese Irish Potatoes are sweeter which some liked. The Potato Irish Potatoes have a bit more spice since the cinnamon is not overpowered by the sweetness. So the only real suggestion that I have for you is that if you are watching your carbohydrates make the dairy version but if you are watching your fats/calories make the potato based version.
I wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day
Dairy-Based Irish Potatoes
as adapted from Baked Bree and Couldn’t be Parve
- 1/2 stick of butter softened
- 1/2 brick of cream cheese softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 cups confectioners sugar
- 2 1/2 cups sweetened coconut
Beat together butter and cream cheese. Slowly add the confectioners sugar. Add the vanilla. Add the coconut and mix until combined.
Chill the coconut mixture a little before you roll them. Use a small ice cream scoop to help you turn these into balls – they are rich, so you want them small & bite-sized. Roll the coconut mixture into a ball.
Roll the coconut mixture into the cinnamon and put on a parchment lined baking sheet. Keep the Irish Potatoes in the fridge.
Potato Based Irish Potatoes
as adapted from Tangled Noodle and The Cookie Shop
- 1/2 cup cold mashed potatoes
- approx 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- (optional) 1 teaspoon Baileys (add more sugar if used)
- 2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
Combine cold (unseasoned/unsalted) mashed potatoes with a little confectioner’s sugar and mix well. As the potato and sugar mix 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 and mix to combine well in the ‘dough’.
Scoop a small (grape-sized) piece of candy mixture and roll between your palms, shaping into a ball or potato form. Lightly roll candy in the cinnamon. Repeat & set on parchment paper while you make all of them. These can be served immediately but last well in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- both of these can be scaled down or up as needed – as written they each make close to 100 little potatoes
- if these are too moist but you don’t want to add more sugar you might want to try some fine flour (cake flour). I should have done this because after being out of the fridge for about 30 minutes they got a little softer than I would have liked
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And I leave you with this, Today’s Question of the Day… is there any “traditional” food you really enjoy and then to find out its not as deeply rooted as you had originally thought?