I had no idea, until we started making it and handing it out last week, that so many family memories are intertwined with this simple treat.....
I still vividly remember the awe that struck me as a little girl when our dad taught us how to make potato candy for the first time.
Potato candy? Was he joking? I'd never had potato as a dessert before!
Momma cleared the kitchen table while Dad boiled the potato.
Very soon, my brother and I were elbows deep in powdered sugar, kneading in the potato and vanilla to form a dough.
It's a marvelous thing for children to help make because it's going to be a gigantic mess no matter what, so no one gets frustrated when powdered sugar goes absolutely everywhere!
We wore aprons from our great-grandmother and snuck samples of the sugary dough before it was finished.
I don't remember exactly, but I'm sure there was some hot chocolate afterwards as well as a thorough washing of hands and arms since we were sticky all over.
My great-uncle, Jack, says he remembers eating potato candy in 1943 when his oldest brothers were in Europe fighting in the war. Sugar and peanut butter were rationed scarcities so the women in the family saved them up over the course of the month then would gather together to make Potato Candy. They hired Jack as their helper and paid him in scraps and end pieces which may have attributed to the very large sweet tooth he has today! The main pieces of the candy would be wrapped up with love and sent to their boys over seas.
My momma invited the women in the family over last Friday to decorate gingerbread men and make potato candy.
We were especially excited to include Grandmom in the potato candy making.
She suffers from dementia now and while she didn't initially remember the significance of potato candy, she helped slice it and didn't object to trying the first bite!
As soon as she popped that first finished piece into her mouth, she said her mother's name and happiness filled her face.
"Iney," she exclaimed, using her mother's nickname, "Tastes just like when Iney made it." Which was a compliment that when straight to my heart.
Dad, who "wasn't participating" in the candy making, chirped in from the other room to help Grandmom recall all the times she had made it in her own kitchen with her sons too.
Isn't that a gift?
That our senses are ties up to memories that way?
That family history is wrapped up in foods?
I will always think of my dad when I make potato candy, he always thinks of his mom, and Grandmom still thinks of being in her childhood kitchen learning how to cook with her mother.
Thank you Jesus, for strengthening relational bonds around the table.
- 1 small Potato (seriously, the smallest you can find, then use just half)
- 2 bags Powdered Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
- 1 jar cheap Peanut Butter
- Optional: green or red food coloring to make the dough more festive
- Half the potato then peel one half.
- Boil the peeled half of the potato.
- While the potato boils, use wax paper to cover a large section of the counter or table and sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar.
- When potato is soft all the way through, remove from pot and lay on wax paper.
- Begin to smash the boiled potato with a fork, when mostly mashed, begin adding powdered sugar and continue mashing.
- Here, pause to add in vanilla. There is not specific amount, just add a little as you continue to add powdered sugar until the potato taste is undetectable. Shouldn't take too much vanilla.
- Continue adding powdered sugar until the mixture comes to the consistency of cookie dough or a paste. It takes LOTS of powdered sugar to reach this point, but you will get there! Don't add too much or it will dry out.
- Use a rolling pin to flatten dough into sheet (see photo above for example of thickness). Maybe a 1/4 of an inch thick.
- Use knife to spread a layer of peanut butter over the flattened dough. Do not spread all the way to the edges or the peanut butter will ooze out the ends.
- When you have spread the peanut butter evenly, begin to roll the dough into a log. Be careful to not tear the dough as you roll. This will happen if it is too dry.
- Use a good knife to cut the roll into individual pieces. I typically leave the entire roll in the fridge for a little while before hand to make cutting easier, but dad says this isn't necessary! I also discard the pieces on each end as they typically don't have much peanut butter.
Now you're ready to gobble them up! I've made potato candy twice this season because it's Matthew's new favorite Christmas treat and we don't indulge in it any other time during the year.
Keep scrolling to see some festive photos I shot at my parent's house when we gathered to make potato candy and decorate gingerbread men.
We ladies had a splendid day making Christmas memories together.
My heritage is a rich one y'all.
I'm so very blessed by the women in my family who live for Christ and encourage me to do the same!
Also pictured, a cute but very snobby cat.