Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Homegrown Gourmet 7 - Maine Potato Candy

I am the originator of Homegrown Gourmet- I am proud of the event and love playing along with all the new rounds that each host comes up with. This round, hosted by Tempered Woman started off as no exception- POTATOES are such a universal food and I love that each region does it's own thing with them. Well, by the end- I hated this stupid round! HA!

I am not a native Mainer- also known as someone "from away." This was a big reason why I started Homegrown Gourmet- I wanted to learn more about the food from 2 states up from my childhood state. One of the first recipes I came across was something called "Needhams." And it was just a matter of time until I could whip this bad boy out.

In short, Needhams are a candy similar to Mounds- chocolate with sweet coconut goo inside. The difference you ask? Needhams also have Maine potatoes as a primary ingredient of the filling! Potato? Yup, potato. You actually don't taste the potato; it is used to make the filling smooth and thick. Don't worry, all the sugar and coconut drown out any veggie flavor! It is a totally original Maine recipe though.

SO... I searched for recipes without finding many variations. They all sounded so reasonable to make. Well boys and girls, was I sure wrong. Let's talk about what went wrong:

  1. I couldn't find Maine potatoes- here in Maine.
  2. I used shredded coconut instead of grated. This led to long strings of fibrous fruit in my candy. It was also impossible to cut.
  3. The first batch of dipping chocolate loved to stick to EVERYTHING- oh yeah, except the candy filling.
  4. The second batch of chocolate was a lighter shade and didn't harden right.
  5. The big one- my filling goo never quite hardened which made it impossible to slice, handle, or dip.

I will say, they were tasty. But a royal pain in the butt. I don't know what went wrong, but at least I can now say that I have made this official Maine recipe! Maybe I should have submitted my potato-wrapped cod instead....

Maine Needhams
  • 3/4 C. Plain Mashed Maine Potatoes
  • 1 Stick Salted Butter
  • 2 Lbs. Confectioners Sugar (I only used 1.25 lbs.- maybe that's where things went wrong.)
  • 1 8 oz. Package of Grated Coconut (Don't use shredded like I did.)
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 12 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 5 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate
  • 1/2 Block Paraffin Wax (Yup, wax- like for candles. I used 1/2 block Gulf Wax.)

  1. Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large saucepan.
  2. Stir in the potato, sugar, coconut, and vanilla.
  3. Pour the mixture on a wax paper-lined or greased cookie sheet. Cool for a million hours in hopes that it will harden. Yeah right.
  4. When the filling is cooled, heat a double boiler on medium heat or put a bowl on top of a saucepan, again on medium heat. Melt the wax in the bowl.
  5. When the wax in mostly melted, add in the chocolate and stir to melt.
  6. While the chocolate melts, this is where you are supposed to cut the now hardened filling into small squares. After 24 hours in the fridge, I had coconut mush. After multiple hours in the freezer, I had slightly harder coconut mush.
  7. In theory, this is where you use a small fork or toothpick to pick up the filling square and dip it in the chocolate, coating it. Then you put it on wax paper to let it solidify.
  8. Or, if you're me, you pour half of the chocolate on top of the slab, let it cool, flip the whole enchilada onto another piece of wax paper and then pour on the rest of the chocolate. Then you attempt to cut the whole mess apart 4 days later and pour chocolate in the middle. When that doesn't work, you dip the mangled hunks of candy in the new batch of melted chocolate, essentially double dipping the whole thing and then dry on a piece of waxed paper. You make 10 candies, curse at the whole operation, and then throw the rest out. The end.


Anonymous said...

I'm curious where you looked for the potatoes. They are everywhere around me (including at least one convenience store down the street).

Ginka's Goodies said...

They still look good!

Nicole said...

I like the photo of where you went wrong. Ha! I can identify when it comes to baking!

BTW would love to subscribe to your RSS feed. Do you have one?

Tempered Woman said...

you are so funny! And now you've got me wondering...my mom use to make something like this but I think she called it Millionaire Candy or something. I don't think it had mashed potatoes in it but the paraffin, choc, coconut all the same. weird.
Definite "A" for effort, heh.

Kate said...

I lived in Needham, Massachusetts for years, and have never heard of these candies. Do you think the town was named after them?

Kristin said...

Erika, Let me talk to my Gram, she has made needhams since I can remember and I will see if I can get the recipe from her.

Anonymous said...

Erica - you tried to make it too much of a "recipe" :-) I've been making needhams for 35 years - the only thing that ever goes wrong is that I end up eating an entire batch before I pack any for gifts ;-). Here's the easy (from Gram) recipe - oh! I'm a 13th generation Mainer - needhams are in my blood ;-)

*Boil a medium sized potato til soft (about an hour)
*Mash the drained potato with a stick (1/2 C) butter and 1 T vanilla
*Stir in confectioner's sugar 'til you can't stir anymore; knead in more confectioner's sugar until you've got something you can get your hands on
*Knead in coconut - doesn't matter if it's shredded or grated or flaked - use what you like
*force the mixture on/into a large waxed paper lined cookie sheet; cover with waxed paper; use your rolling pin to roll back and forth, up and down, til it's all packed evenly.
*Cover with plastic wrap; put it in the refrigerator over night.

To cut the candy: lift the waxed paper (and candy) out of the cookie sheet; cut with metal yardstick and pizza cutter.

Dip the chocolate in whatever you like -- this is the part where we have multiple secret family recipes ;-)