Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weekend Cooking...Potato Candy

While traveling, I think one should sample the local foods, see what the natives are eating.

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. 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 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.

Needham Bars

"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
Chocolate Dip
  • 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.


  1. Thanks for taking one on the chin for us. I'm not a fan of coconut or potatoes, so someone else can have my share.

  2. Who knew that you could eat paraffin wax? Not me, lol.

    I gather from your description of these that the potato flavor is essentially not detectable...I guess it's more for the consistency?

  3. I love coconut patties, too, and may just have to try this potato variety! I made chocolate covered peanut butter balls for many years. The recipe called for wax in the chocolate... it was always a race to roll and dip them before it hardened.

  4. Well they look lovely (yours are better than the commercial variety I think), but the wax is a bit off -putting.

  5. And you of course mailed half of them to me, right??? This is a Maine treat I missed. Must make sure I do a search next time we're there. All in the name of research and to broaden my horizons, of course.

  6. well...I would not know there was wax or potato in them to tell you the truth. And I will say the wax seemed to make them very shiny, which is nice. My only issue with them is the chocolate I used. Maybe a bit too 'dark' for my taste. Next time I would use a more milk flavored chip.

    The filling, potato and all is excellent!!

  7. What fun---I've always wondered about these candies. Potato is an amazing ingredient, pretty versatile! I've never seen the wax used with chocolate, does that keep the chocolate firm?

  8. I don't think it is something I would make, but I have heard of potato fudge.

  9. That looks yummy, but it's not at all like the potato candy my mom made. I'll have to give it a try sometime, I love me some chocolate!
    Here's My WC

  10. Interesting post. Potatoes and paraffin in candy, who would have thought?

  11. I don't think I've ever heard of potatoes in candy but I did have some peanutbutter candies made by a woman I worked with. When I asked her for the recipe and it said paraffin, I just never made them. Can't quite see eating wax even though they were delicious.

  12. Looks delicious.

    Anything with chocolate :)

  13. How fun. I'm glad to see your attempts to recreate were successful.
    I'm not sure about eating wax either but I guess it's not the worst thing that could be wrapped in chocolate.

  14. I have never heard of this before but I am sold! I love chocolate and coconut! I think your candies look even better than the store bought one!

  15. They look perfect and delicious.



  16. This looks mouthwatering. Never heard of the wax before.. I am not sure I can even get it over here.

  17. This is so unusual that I absolutely have to try it. I can't wait to see for myself.

  18. Your candies look fantastic! I've never had potato candy but coated in chocolate, count me in, I'd try!

  19. Those look delicious although I don't like coconut flakes, but I wouldn't mind trying it because of the potatoes.

  20. Maine! My favorite place, and potatoes my favorite food! But I have never tried the potato candy yet. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post and the recipe! Can't wait to make it and surprise my family.

  21. These sound amazing! I am pinning this post so I remember to try them sometime!! BTW thanks for stopping by my musings post!

  22. My mother and the ladies at her church in Baltimore since I was a wee wee girl. EXCEPT...they made them only at Easter and rolled them into egg shapes. The recipe tho is the same. The ladies would add all kinds of ingredients to get different flavors: peanut butter, maple syrup, cocoa, coconut, chopped candied fruit and cherry juice, and vanilla extract for the pure white vanilla ones. We never ever had a commercially prepared or "boughten" store candy egg for Easter.. just baskets full of these yummies. Mom is 87 and Still makes them for us every easter.

    And Then......the ladies make the same basic candy at Thanksgiving time, but shape them into small crescents and then roll them in cinnamon and sugar. They are known as 'sweet potatoes' and are equally yummy. I've never seen them anyplace but Maryland tho.

    PS...never saw these in Maine either, but maybe because I wasn't looking for them.

  23. I would like to try one, they look delicious.


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