Irish potato candy is a traditional Philadelphia confection that, despite its name, is not from Ireland, nor does it usually contain any potato. The candies have a coconut cream inside (generally made from some blend of coconut, confectioner's sugar, vanilla, and cream or cream cheese) and are rolled in cinnamon on the outside, making them look like small potatoes. The treats are about the size of a large marble and are especially popular around St. Patrick's Day.
Oh Ryan's of Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, makes the largest distribution of Irish Potatoes shipping about 80,000 pounds to major chains and smaller candy stores mostly in the Philadelphia area, and Peggy Therwanger Clark of Delran, New Jersey makes Irish Potatoes that have earned her the nickname "the Martha Stewart of Saint Patrick's Day". See's Candies based in South San Francisco also makes a version composed of a divinity and English walnut interior dusted with cocoa and using pine nuts as potato "eyes". They are showcased as a seasonal product by Acme Markets.
While the commercial confection is usually coconut-cream–based, there does exist recipes for potato-based Irish Potato candy. The potato is mashed, without any added liquid, and confectioner's sugar is added gradually. The coconut and vanilla are added while the mixture is still somewhat soft to make blending easier; and additional confectioner's sugar is added until a consistency is reached that will allow rolling into bite-sized balls. The candy is allowed to dry for a couple of hours and then rolled in cinnamon to achieve the appearance of tiny potatoes. Drying the candy before rolling in the cinnamon keeps the cinnamon from becoming dark.
This recipe does not involve any use of heat after the cooking of the potato. When the sugar is added to the mashed potato the mixture becomes liquid, then becomes gradually firmer as more sugar is added. Powdered cocoa can be substituted for the cinnamon for a slightly darker potato without the cinnamon's "bite". The coconut can be left out, or try dipping the candy in chocolate. The potato and confectioner's sugar makes a nice base for experimenting with other flavors, such as mint.