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Vegan Mofo is asking for us to share our regional dishes. Many people in the US will say this is a little bit of a tricky one. Yes, we do have foods we are proud of and only found in certain parts of the US, BUT we are a melting pot here. I think it becomes most obvious in places like New Jersey, where we are sandwiched between two major cities. It isn’t that we don’t have local foods, but it more like people say it is a “Philadelphia” food or a “New York City” kind-of food. It is more obvious to me, since I have went from North Jersey to South Jersey, and can see all the local foods get snatched by the cities.

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One very regional food is the Irish Potato. One might think two things- one that the food is really Irish and two that the food would have potatoes. I am not sure how this weirdo dish came to be, but it has no potatoes, and no Irish roots. The food gets it’s name because they resemble a small potato. And although they don’t have Irish roots, they are a seasonal treat with the Saint Patricks Day holiday.

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And if you are sitting here thinking “I’m from New Jersey and I’ve never heard of an Irish Potato!” then I am going to guess you are from Central/North Jersey. I never heard of these guys until I moved to Philadelphia. My roommates (one from Northeast Philly, the other from South Jersey) thought I was crazy that I never heard of these things. One told the story about how for class their assignment was to make a food from their heritage. So Italian kids made lasagna, German kids schnitzels, and Irish kids would make Irish potatoes. As laughable it maybe for a kid to mistake “American” food with “Irish” food they are a great food to make with kids. They are super sweet and super easy to make. You just need an electric mixer, or a really good potato masher.

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So what is an Irish potato made of? Well, they are like small candies on par with a fudge. They are pretty much just butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and coconut rolled with a cinnamon coating. As my roommate described it “They should be really disgusting, but you can’t stop eating them.” Oh I think I should note that most people use Crisco over butter in the recipe!

But I couldn’t just leave it be simple. I took another region dessert from the United States and mixed it. Needhams. These are a Maine treat that use potatoes, powder sugar, butter, and coconut flakes, that is covered in chocolate. The snack uses potatoes to balance all that sugar and fat, which is probably what Irish Potatoes need.

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I made the batch and sent to my husband’s work, putting it to the true locals test. Turned out that everyone loved it, and couldn’t taste the “vegan” parts of it. Plus most people liked how the potatoes cooled out the sweet parts.

I technically made this recipe almost 2 years ago before I “opened” the blog up. But I thought I should update the photos. I only had two pictures, and I remember taking it with a very-old not-so-hot camera. These are such a local food, that I think they need to be shared around more often.

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Irish Potato Candies
A Philadelphia favorite for Saint Patrick's Day- even though it isn't irish.
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Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cups mashed potatoes *
  2. 4 tbsp soy butter, room temp **
  3. 4 tbsp tofutti cream cheese, room temp ***
  4. 2 lb + 1 tbsp of powder sugar
  5. 2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  6. 2 tbsp cinnamon ****
Instructions
  1. 1 In a mixer beat together the potatoes, butter, and cream cheese until fluffy.
  2. 2 Once throughly mixed, slowly add 2 lbs of powdered sugar. Since of the potatoes, more sugar is needed than normal to thicken up the mix. Stir in coconut flakes.
  3. 3 Cover mix and refrigerate for an hour to make rolling easier.
  4. 4 In a small flat bowl mix together 2 tablespoons of cinnamon in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of powder sugar. You can change the ratio according to your cinnamon or taste preference.****
  5. 5 Recruit everyone you have in your house to help roll these out, to help save your sanity. Scoop out one tablespoon of the potato mix and roll into a ball in your hand. Roll into the cinnamon. Tap off excess cinnamon.
  6. 6 Keep in the refrigerator and wait about 30 minutes to eat. I found that letting them sit helps the cinnamon absorb into the balls and become less messy.
Notes
  1. * I used leftover mashed potatoes. They were only used minimal soy milk, butter/oil, salt, and a small dash of pepper. They were all skinned. If your leftover have garlic, onion, or any other spices, I suggest boiling a new potato for the recipe.
  2. ** I used a vegan butter and cream cheese for the recipe. If you don't like the idea of using processed products and would prefer, use dairy originals.
  3. *** I haven't attempted to use it, but I have a feeling that home made versions of vegan cream cheese will not do the trick. It will most likely not produce a thick enough end product. If you don't what to use fake cream cheese, as you will most like never use the rest of jar, just replace with 4 tbsp of vegan butter.
  4. **** Powdered Sugar is optional. I have cinnamon that I bought from an Indian Supermarket, and find it spicier than your average cinnamon.
  5. Variations Replace the cinnamon with Cocoa powder and add 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of chipotle powder. Now you have "Mexican Potatoes".
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