Potato Candy

“And now for something completely different!” This confection isn’t Irish, but comes from those clever people in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) where the traditional appearance of this candy on St. Patrick’s Day is considered a sign that spring is coming to the city, and given the latitude, I’m sure everyone there welcomes their appearance. These sweets do not contain potatoes, no cooking is involved, and they’re simple and fun to make. Get the kids to help. I added pecans to the mixture and used chopped almonds for the eyes, though slivered is better and pine nuts are perfect.

Soften three tablespoons of butter and four ounces of cream cheese (I found it politic to use Philadelphia brand, and don’t use the low-fat), mix with a teaspoon pure vanilla extract, four cups confectioner’s sugar, two and a half cups of grated coconut and a cup of chopped pecans. You don’t really have to mix this very well; it won’t matter if they’re lumpy, since they’re potatoes, for Pete’s sake.

Chill mixture for about an hour or until very firm and form into irregularly-shaped balls. Trust me, dust your hands with powdered sugar to make it easier. Place these on a plate or a sheet pan in the refrigerator to firm up again, and roll in cinnamon (or cocoa if you want darker spuds). Stud the surface with the nuts and store in a cool, dry place until serving or freeze them for later.