So, when I was in Maine, I made a discovery while in a local supermarket. I had gone in to restock my supply of Diet Mt. Dew, one of the finest beverage ever made and a need source of caffeine while on the road. So there I stood, the needed refrigerator pack of The Dew tucked under my arm as I waited in line, when my eye fell upon a small display near the register for Needham Candies.
The sign claimed that the product, some sort of chocolate cover square, was the favorite candy of Maine. Not just popular, not just a good seller but the Very Favorite Candy of Maine.
So I had to buy one, right, if only to report back to you, my dear readers.
I bought one, took it out to my waiting car...which is, by the way, named Betty White...because it is white...and opened the plastic. The candy was consumed and it was good. It contained coconut and reminded me very much of the Coconut Patties that, on occasion, someone would bring back from a trip to Florida when I was a wee Caite. I myself had not been to Florida at that point, so I pictured it as an exotic land covered with palm trees and coconut patties.
Which I found not to be totally true in later years, oddly enough.
But I still love coconut patties!
And this was a nice coconut patty.
OK, here comes the surprise.
A closer look at the ingredient label revealed that these Needham candies contained an unusual ingredient...POTATO.
Awww...now I see why those Maine folk love them, because we all know the close relationship between Mainers and potatoes. So much so that they even put potatoes in their candy.
Later, I looked the candy up on the internet, trying to find out how the candy came to contain potato. I never did find that answer but I found something else.
What I found were recipes...many recipes...to make the candy yourself at home. It seems it is a bit of a tradition to make them at Christmastime. And since every recipe was virtually the same and seemed very easy, I decided to give them a try.
"Aroostook County is potato country. Even our candy has potato in it!"
- 3/4 cup warm unseasoned mashed potatoes
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 lbs confectioners' sugar
- 8 ounces coconut
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 ounces paraffin wax (yes, like the stuff you seal canning jars with)
- 12 ounces dark chocolate chips
- 4 semi-sweet chocolate baking squares
Mix first six ingredients well.
Place into a 9x13 buttered pan and pat down until smooth.
Place in refrigerator until firm.
Cut into 24 squares.
Melt chocolate/wax in a double boiler.
Dip each square into melted chocolate.
Place on waxed paper to harden.
Store in airtight container.
I must say that I do not often have to go to the hardware store to buy an ingredient for my recipes, but I did have to for the wax.
I will also say that the wax makes the chocolate set up very fast and quite hard. The only change I made to the recipe was the amount of butter. Most recipes call for 1/4 cup, half a stick, but I found you need a full stick, 1/2 cup, as a couple of recipes call for to make the mixture moist enough to stick together. It will seem quite dry at first but keep stirring and it will come together. I refrigerated overnight and they became quite firm and easy to cut. I melted the chocolate and wax in a stainless bowl over a pot of water and used a fork and skewer to put the candies in the mixture. and I will admit, I doubled dipped, because, as you can see in the picture at the top, the chocolate layer in the original was quite thick. I also dusted mine with a little ground almonds..just because.
This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.