With Easter on the way, I thought I’d let Louise share a recipe she told me about months ago. It’s an old Pennsylvania Dutch recipe for chocolate covered coconut eggs, and the secret ingredient in the filling is potato.
In Eastern Pennsylvania, local church ladies sometimes sell coconut eggs by the dozen as fund raisers at Easter. They’re a popular treat in that part of the country, and I have fond memories of making them (along with the peanut butter variety) with my mom.
Last year I decided it was time to try making the coconut eggs myself. I didn’t have the actual recipe on paper, but a Google search brought up this one (link doesn’t work anymore) from About.com Even though the sole reviewer had decreed them as “ABSOLUTELY INEDIBLE!”, I knew that the basic idea was right and jumped in.
Below is the adapted recipe which changes the volumes of the key ingredients and clarifies the instructions. I added my own review to the About recipe (update: which we’ll never get to see), along with my changes and hope some of you will try these and let me know what you think. I can take the criticism.
If you search for other recipes, you will also find ones that include cream cheese, but that totally changes the taste and takes away from the coconut flavor.
Coconut Easter Eggs Made with a Potato aka Needhams or Potato Candy
1 medium potato (approx. 6 to 8 oz before cooking, cooked to make 3/4 cup unseasoned mashed potatoes)
2 cups unsweetened dried coconut
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 pounds confectioners sugar (about 6 cups)
12 ounces dark chocolate plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Let the potato thoroughly cool before using. Otherwise it melts the sugar and you will use far more sugar to make a stiff mixture and end up with a much sweeter candy.
In a medium bowl, combine the cool mashed potatoes, coconut, salt, and vanilla. A hand mixer is fine.
Add the sugar a cup at a time and mix well. The first cup of sugar will draw the water from the potato. Continue adding sugar a cup at a time to taste and the mixture becomes slightly stiff. It does not have to be too dry as the coconut will absorb some of the liquid. Refrigerate overnight.
Allow to come to room temperature, then shape into eggs. A cookie scoop works well to create uniform sized pieces. Place on waxed or parchment paper.
Melt chocolate. The vegetable oil is optional but will give the chocolate a slight shine. Dip formed eggs in melted chocolate and set back on paper to harden. — To avoid pools of chocolate, my technique is to balance an egg on a fork to dip it and let it drain before placing it on the paper.
Using Sweetened Coconut
Anna’s Note: This recipe from Louise is a good one, but you can also make these with sweetened flaked coconut. To use sweetened coconut, use 3/4 cup unseasoned mashed potatoes, 4 cups sweetened coconut, 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and about 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla.
My mother in law use to make these but they (and her family) always used baked potatoes instead of boiling. Her eggs were ALWAYS so GREAT! And they were Pa Dutch 🙂
Thanks for sharing your potato recipe! I think this is a great idea and accommodates people with allergies to gluten and dairy, like me! I saw other recipes for coconut eggs but they had butter and cream cheese which doesn’t work for me.
So because you use a potato this would be a good gluten free receipe, right?
The other name for this candy in Maine is “Needhams”.
I thought mine taste almost just like Almond Joy/Mound candy.
Tracy — If you’re looking for the Almond Joy taste for your son, I think you want to go with Katrina’s recipe as these definitely don’t taste like either Mounds or Almond Joy.
CookieNurse — Potato flakes would change the whole chemistry of what happens with the sugar, but I can’t say it wouldn’t work. I’ll send an email to my cousin who makes a rolled up peanut butter potato candy at Christmas and see if she ever tried it.
Wow, potato. I never would have thought that would have worked.
Just got done with peanut butter eggs. Maybe I try the coconut next year — my older son loves Almond Joys.
Do you think it would be OK to use potato flakes (the kind used for instant mashed potatoes)?
Thanks for the recipe, Happy Easter!
oh i love chocolate and coconut. these are so yummy !
Potato is the secret ingredient? Who would have guessed? They look beautiful.
I’m putting these on my mental calendar for next year. I’ve already done all the egg dipping I”m doing for 2010. My college friend from Philly used to get fudge covered potato candy in the mail from her mom. There was no coconut, but other than that it looks very similar. Happy Easter to your family!
Clara — great answer on the food chemistry. Now I’ll have to research sugar and hydroscopics, just for the curiosity. Oops, I just did. Hygroscopy is the ability of a substance to attract water molecules from the surrounding environment through either absorption or adsorption. A hydroscope is an optical device used for making observations deep under water. 🙂
Sugar is actually what is called hydroscopic, which means that it gathers as much moisture as it can from around it. A good example of this is if you put some homemade (with the fifteen minute stirring and wahtnot) in the refrigerator for a while and it gets all goopy and soggy. The fridge provides a moist and cold environment for the food so that it doesn’t dry out. The problem is is that the sugar grabs that moisture from the cold air and takes it in, making things soggy.
When you put sugar with things like apples and, in this case, a potato, it sucks the moisture out of there and absorbs it. A lot of times, it will become a liquid itself because of how much it takes in, resulting in a juice or syrup.
I thought that this might be helpful with your question :). I don’t know why I know this stuff…
Sue – I’d try adding a lot more coconut that I did and certainly decrease the sugar. The amount of sugar required is mostly to get them to the right consistency. The type of coconut I use is the kind you’d get at a health food store so it doesn’t end up tasting like a Mounds bar. When I was a kid, we always started with a real coconut, not stuff out of a bag.
These look good and easy. How bad would they be if I were to use some sweetened coconut that I bought by mistake? It seems like I could decrease the sugar a little and it might be okay?
I made these a while back, too, and posted them on my blog. I’m from Idaho, and I have a cookbook that has recipes all with potato in them. I called these Almond Joy Candy, because you can stick an almond in the top before dipping them in chocolate. My recipe uses leftover (plain) mashed potatoes. You’d never know there was potato in them, they taste just like Almond Joy/Mounds Candy.
I’ve heard of potato candy too! They really look great!
I’ve had some potato coconut candy before except it wasn’t dipped in chocolate. This recipe looks really good!
oh my gosh, a potato? i made these and loved them (a year ago), but nevr used a potato. HA! love it.
These look nice, and certainly are better than the store bought version loaded with high fructose corn syrup!
I’ve since found a recipe for “Maine Potato Candy” which has the same amount of mashed potatoes but uses 4 cups of flaked coconut and 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar. The eggs I made taste pretty much like I remember them, but the next time I make them I may try increasing the coconut to 3 cups and go from there. It could also be a difference in the type of coconut. Mine is the fine shredded stuff, not the angel flakes.