I know what you’re thinking: “Potato candy? I’ll pass!” That’s what just about everyone says when they encounter this little slice of sweetness. And those who are too cowardly to take a taste end up missing out on a fantastic, unique candy with almost no perceptible taste of potato. I know this because I was almost one of those people. When I was little I hated mashed potatoes. It was a texture thing. I loved french fries, which are basically mashed potatoes with a crunchy exterior. But I just couldn’t bring myself to believe that. How could my beloved french fries be akin to something so squishy and bland? Having that aversion to mashed potatoes, I was horrified upon being offered a piece of “mashed potato” candy by a relative when I was about 7. I remember thinking “How could someone ruin candy with mashed potatoes?!” I was convinced it was a trick to get me to eat something I didn’t like. I was rather a conspiracy theorist, even then. But there it sat on the tray in the kitchen… sweet looking with a beautiful ribbon of peanut butter in the center… “Hmmm…” I thought. “Peanut butter is my favorite food… maybe just a tiny taste and if I hate it I can spit it into the trash…” I would like to say that was a life changing moment for me. That it was a lesson in being bold in trying new foods. It definitely was not. I learned no such painfully obvious lesson. I remained resolutely picky for several more years. BUT I took a piece of that candy and, ready to cause a scene and run to the trash can to perform my most dramatic spitting-out yet, took a small bite. There was no scene. Only knowing smiles from the relatives standing closest to me. The candy was amazing! Incredibly sweet and rich and peanut butter-y with only the merest hint of potato- certainly not enough for an incredibly picky 7 year old to pick out and reject. I ate several pieces that holiday, proving that there really isn’t such a thing as “too rich” for me.
Sadly, I’ve had potato candy only once since then. I was a bit hesitant to try it because I was older and knew from experience that things one loved as a child have a tendency to be awful when tried with more mature taste buds. But I was pleasantly surprised- the candy was still wonderful that second time! So when I made dinner the other night- slow simmered beef stew served in hollowed out baked potatoes (“baked” in the slow cooker)- I didn’t know what I was going to do with the small amount of potato left over from the 4 potatoes I used. Then it hit me: potato candy! I immediately texted my BFF with my idea and found she had never heard of such a thing but was very intrigued so I should blog it. I took her advice (she’s a very wise woman, after all) and here we are. Hopefully you will be as curious!
I’ve studied all the recipes I can find and they are all pretty much the same- and incredibly basic. All you need is almost definitely already in your pantry and fridge.
If you want your candy to keep a bright whiteness you will need clear vanilla, available in the baking aisle. As vanilla beans are almost black and exude a brown color when soaked, I don’t trust clear vanilla. It’s fake. I don’t like fake. And, honestly, there’s something I find a tad unsettling about stark white potato candy. So I use regular vanilla and it ends up off white- I’m ok with that.
As I said, you only need a small amount of potato for this. But it needs to be just plain potato. As I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, I always use chicken broth when I make mashed potatoes and that won’t work here. Then you’d have chicken-y potato candy and that would just be too weird. So make sure you have PLAIN potatoes (from a baked potato would be ideal) and make sure they are room temperature- they will be easier to incorporate that way. Put them in a bowl along with the vanilla, salt, and the lesser amounts of the milk and powdered sugar. Start stirring with a spoon, not your hands because it will be gloopy. Once everything is mixed together add another cup of powdered sugar and start mixing with your hands. I used 5 cups when I made mine and that was enough. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If your dough is still a little too sticky add more powdered sugar by the 1/4 cupful until it’s not sticky anymore. If you get the dough a little too dry, add more milk by the teaspoonful until it’s at the right consistency. You want something like this:
You don’t have to worry about getting it completely mixed in the bowl. It’s actually easier if you turn the contents of the bowl out onto a countertop that has been dusted with powdered sugar (NOT flour!) and then work it into a smooth ball of dough. Knead it just like bread dough for a about a minute to get all of the sugar mixed in and you will end up with a beautifully smooth dough…
If you’ll notice, this is not a ball. It’s more an oblong blob of dough. This is for very good reason, actually. If you roll the dough into a ball it will form a circle when you roll it out. Some of the recipes I found called for rolling the dough into a circle and then cutting the edges off to form a rectangle. That just seemed completely ridiculous to me. Why on Earth would you roll it into a circle, then cut edges off and waste them when you can just roll it into a rectangle to begin with?! So I made the dough into an oblong shape, coated my rolling pin and the surface of the dough with a bit of powdered sugar, and started rolling. I didn’t end up with a perfect rectangle, but I was close…
It’s close enough for my purposes, anyway. You will need to keep the rolling pin and the surface of the dough coated with a little powdered sugar so things don’t stick. And if you get a tear, just pinch it back together. You can see where I had to do that at the bottom edge. It’s a really easy fix!
Once you have the dough rolled out to about 1/4 inch, spread your peanut butter. I have an amount listed below in the recipe but this is approximate. I don’t measure the peanut butter, I just keep spreading it on until I have a very thin layer. Don’t go overboard- that will just make it hard to roll. Here’s how mine looked:
Now comes the tricky part: rolling this up. Start at the edge farthest from you and roll towards you. Go slowly! You will probably need to scrape the dough up from the counter in a few spots as you go and the edges may be a bit crumbly. Just go slowly and be patient and you will, indeed, get a cinnamon roll-style log of peanut butter filled candy dough. Now take a sharp knife, cut the ends off… and share them with whomever is nearest. Seriously! That’s why I wasn’t worried about getting a perfectly neat rectangle. I just cut the unsightly ends off and share them with whomever is closest at hand. That way there’s no waste! As for the rest of the log, cut it into slices no thicker than half an inch and either plate it up or put it into an airtight container. If you put it on a plate, wrap it well in plastic wrap. If you put it in a container and have to have layers, put plastic wrap between said layers.
Once you slice and arrange the pieces you will have what looks like minature cinnamon rolls, ready to be baked:
These are a little rough and not exactly perfect but it’s also my first try… well, ever. I’ll get it a little cleaner next time. But even if they aren’t the prettiest they are SO tasty! These would be beautiful alongside your other candies on a platter at your Christmas shindig. Maybe they’ll inspire you to dig out the old time cookbooks and make some other classic candies for the Holidays! It’s definitely got me thinking now! We’ll see if any other old school ideas catch my fancy! 🙂
1/3 C Mashed Potato, room temperature
1-2 T Milk (I used only 1 T)
1 t Vanilla
Large Pinch Salt
4-6 C Powdered Sugar
4-6 T Creamy Peanut Butter
*In a large bowl, combine mashed potatoes, salt, vanilla, and the lesser amounts of powdered sugar and milk.
*Mix with a spoon until well combined.
*Add 1 C more of powdered sugar and begin working the dough together with your hands until everything is combined and the dough is no longer sticky.
*If needed, add more powdered sugar by 1/4 cupfuls until the dough is the required consistency.
*If the dough gets too dry (crumbly) add more milk by teaspoonfuls until the proper consistency is reached.
*Dust the counter top liberally with powdered sugar and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough until it is smooth and not sticky at all; about 1-2 minutes.
*Pat into a rough oblong shape.
*Coat the surface of the dough and a rolling pin with a thin layer of powdered sugar and roll the dough into the rough shape of a rectangle, rolling until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick.
*Spread with a layer of peanut butter (I would say I used the larger amount listed above, maybe a tiny bit more).
*Start at the long side farthest from you and roll the dough up cinnamon roll-style, rolling it towards you.
*With a sharp knife, trim up the edges (read: eat the ugly bits!) and cut the roll into slices no thicker than 1/2 an inch.
*Place on a platter and wrap well with plastic wrap or put in an airtight container with plastic between the layers.
*Keep up to 4 days.