The cheesesteak, the soft pretzel…and the Irish potato? Yes, Irish potato candies are a Philadelphia tradition going back over 100 years! While there are no actual potatoes in the Philadelphia version of this confection, they get their name because they are made to look like miniature potatoes. Typically the candies have a coconut butter cream inside and a cinnamon coating. Although the candies were most likely created as a commemoration of the Irish Potato Famine that lasted from 1845-1851, they are now widely associated with St. Patrick’s Day as a celebratory seasonal treat.
I find that most people either love or hate Irish potatoes because coconut tends to be a very polarizing ingredient. Personally, I LOVE it! Around this time of year, it’s not unusual to see packaged Irish potatoes pop up in food stores and even non-food stores, but my favorite Irish potatoes are homemade and cold from the refrigerator. I’ve made them myself a few times, but most of my memories are of eating Irish potatoes made by my mom! These sweet little bites have great coconut flavor and are nice and creamy and not at all dry like some of the packaged ones can be. Enjoy!
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 14-oz. bag of sweetened coconut
- Approximately 2 tablespoons cinnamon
In a large bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until combined. Mix in the coconut.
With a small cookie scoop, measure out balls of the mixture. Roll gently in your hands to smooth and place on a cookie tray covered in parchment paper. Lightly cover the tray and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Candies will be easier to roll when cold and just slightly dried this way.
On a small plate, sprinkle cinnamon. To avoid overly coating the candies, sprinkle about a teaspoon of cinnamon onto the plate at a time. Roll coconut cream balls in the cinnamon, lightly coating. Add more cinnamon to the plate as necessary. Store Irish potato candies in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
If you’re looking for more fun ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, be sure to check THIS POST full of local events and things to do at home!