Irish Potatoes and a Giveaway

March 13, 2011

While I learned a lot in the classrooms at college, almost ten years later what I remember the most are the things I learned from my classmates and friends. We all came from different backgrounds and college was an opportunity for us to share and learn from each other. My wonderful roommate was from just outside of Philadelphia and thought that my education could not be complete if I was not exposed to all kinds of the Philadelphia specialties she grew up with. While I didn’t get to try all of them (it is not really possible to find Kosher scrapple) I did enjoy the Tasty Cakes and Yuengling beer she would bring back with her when she went home. But by far my favorite were the Irish Potatoes, a creamy coconut candy coated in cinnamon to make them resemble potatoes. I had never heard of them before, but I fell in love with them immediately. I looked forward to the annual St Patrick’s Day box her parents would send, that she was generous enough to share with me. It wasn’t until years later that it occurred to me to that I could probably make Irish Potatoes myself and looked up a recipe, only to discover they are one of the quickest easiest candies to make. I have tried dressing them up by dipping them in chocolate, but the original version, rolled in cinnamon, is by far the best. While the original recipe for Irish Potatoes calls for cream cheese (Philadelphia brand of course) this non-dairy (parve) versions leaves nothing to be desired. They are luscious, creamy and spicy, just they way they should be.

Now for the giveaway. The wonderful people at CSN stores are offering one reader a $50 gift certificate to use on one of their online sites. The sites carry all kinds of different products from kitchen wares to office desks, so I’m sure the gift certificate can be put to good use. Here is how you enter.

Leave a comment here with your favorite regional food. If you have a recipe feel free to include the link. For a second chance to win become a facebook fan and leave a comment here on this post telling me that you are a fan. (If you already are a fan just leave the comment) For a third chance follow me on twitter @couldntbeparve and leave a comment here telling me you are following. The winner will be chosen at random on Sunday, March 20th at 10:00 pm PST so feel free to leave comments until then.

UPDATE: Giveaway is now over.


Irish Potatoes

Yield: approximately 90

2 tablespoons margarine, softened
4 oz tofutti cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 cups ground unsweetened coconut
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

In the bowl of a mixer beat the margarine and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar. Beat until smooth. Add the coconut and mix until well blended. Using a teaspoon at a time roll the mixture into balls or potato shapes. Place the balls in the cinnamon and toss to coat. Chill until set. If desired, roll potatoes in cinnamon again for darker color.

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  1. Very cute! I thought these would have mashed potatoes in them because there is another regional candy (Maine?) made from mashed potatoes.

    I can see these being part of a very clever mishloach manot of some kind (all potato theme? Mini bottles of potato based vodka, potato chips, cookies made with potato chips, and these candies?). For more of a potato look, you could stick in bits of walnuts for the “eyes.”

    My favorite regional treat? Hot soft pretzels, maybe.

  2. Being from the Philly area, I don’ think I ever realized that Irish potatoes were a Philadelphia thing…! But Tastycakes? Yum! My favorite are the butterscotch krimpets, and my husband’s are the kandy kakes!
    But I think my favorite local flair treat is the Philly soft pretzel. With mustard, of course! (Many people would say cheese steaks, but I have never had one… Hard to make that Kosher…! There is a place that makes Vegan cheese steaks, though, which are amazing – I just have no idea how they compare to the “real” thing!)

  3. I just got back from New Orleans for Mardi Gras, so I’m a little biased toward Cajun and Creole food at the moment. Beignets are currently my favorite dessert on the planet.

    I’ve never heard of Irish Potatoes before, but they look super tasty. I’ll try some on St. Patty’s Day (also my birthday!) as a real treat πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  4. Funny, that you linked to desks. I am looking for one for my daughter’s room.
    My favorite regional food. OMG there are way too many. I guess it depends on my mood. What came to mind today was a German savory pie called ‘Zwiebel Kuchen’ or translated ‘ Onion Pie’ This tastes incredible with a cup of hard cider, a glass of wine or some rustic beer.

    Thanks for hosting the give-away.

  5. My favorite regional treat-toasted ravioli. I haven’t had it in a while, since I don’t know anyone who makes a kosher version, but it’s local to St. Louis. I’ve never seen it anywhere else (at least not properly). The other big local treat (also a St. Louis one) is a concrete-it’s frozen custard. The story goes that it’s called a concrete because if you stick your spoon in and turn it upside down it won’t fall out. Ted Drewes is the classic version (and most of the flavors are kosher…), although other places sell them.

  6. Being from Miami where it’s become ‘internationalized’ particularly with a latin flair i’d have to say my favorite is Cuban food like a medianoche sandwich with tostadas.

  7. Is a bagel a regional food? Probably, since I have yet to find one outside of New York City that I think is good. Those look really cute and I love the story.

  8. I’m from NYC and love the pizza! I know it’s not a big main food but for some reason I’ve never had a slice as good as in NY πŸ™‚

  9. I live in New Orleans and love homestyle red beans and rice — for some reason, a good friend makes them better than any other I’ve tried!

    I’m glad I came across your blog — I am lactose-intolerant and gluten-free, so although I don’t keep kosher and it’s not always Passover, your recipes are good for me any time of year! Thanks!!

  10. Wow…you just brought back great childhood memories for me. I grew up right outside Philly, but have been gone for years. I hadn’t thought about Irish Potatoes for years. Thanks for the flashback

    As for regional food favorite that is a tough one, there are so many great ones…but to stay true to the Philly theme I will have to say a TRUE Philly Cheesesteak with cheese and sauteed onions. It is rare to get a truly decent one outside of the region.

  11. I discovered whoopie pies on a trip to New England many years ago. I hear they’re quite trendy now, and I’ve been meaning to get around to making some sometime soon.

  12. My favorite regional food are (veggie) Spiedies. My husband is mad for the meaty version. It’s an upstate NY thing. Nothing fancy, just a special marinade (usually for meat), then you grill whatever has been marinated and put it on a hoagie roll. But, being from the NYC metro area, bagels and bialys are on my list too! Oh, and try getting a knish in upstate NY – they just look at you like have two heads if you ask!

    Thanks for the recipe – I have a Philly friend who made me Irish potatoes every year as well, I didn’t really know what was in the recipe! She used to make me a special batch sans coconut πŸ™‚

  13. Without a doubt, cornbread dressing. We have this every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve (and it’s one of things I look forward to most when going home to my parents’).

    • I used margarine simply because I wanted to keep them dairy-free. If that is not a concern for you feel free to use butter and regular dairy cream cheese.

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