Every year about this time, my Grandma Armstrong made potato candy. Although the confection sounds like it should be Irish, she was as German as you could get. Her maiden name was Sholley, descended from one of two brothers Schallin who came over in the 1700s (Simon and Frederick) and her mother was a Kreighbaum.
Still, I’m not sure if potato candy is German or not. I think the main thing is it’s cheap, which probably explains why many people can remember their grandmothers or great grandmothers making it. To make Grandma’s variation, you need a potato, powdered sugar (a lot of powdered sugar) and peanut butter.
That’s it. That’s all you need to make a candy that is quick, messy, ridiculously easy, messy, extremely sweet, messy, and ideal to make with children. Did I mention it’s messy? Of course, kids love it.
This year, I decided to try some variations, which I’ll share along with the traditional version.
One small potato, peeled, boiled, and cooled (Trust me, you do not want to use a big one.)
Plenty of powdered sugar (at least 1-1/2 bags or you’ll be running to the store in the middle of making your candy)
Peanut butter (not necessary if you use peppermint extract)
Vanilla or peppermint extract (optional) (Don’t use spearmint like I did. Just don’t.)
Semi-sweet chocolate, melted (chips or squares, whatever you’ve got, optional with peanut butter variation, necessary if you use peppermint flavoring)
Spoon (wooden is good)
A metal spatula is helpful
Waxed paper or parchment paper is also helpful
A large plate or cookie sheet to store the candy on while it hardens in the fridge
1. Mash the potato.
2. Add the extract if you’re using it, about a teaspoon should do.
3. Start adding powdered sugar, stirring it into the potato. First it will become stiff, then it will liquefy, which kids also find fascinating. (I’m sure there’s a chemistry lesson in there somewhere, but you’ll have to find the explanation somewhere else because I just say it’s magic.)
4. Keep adding powdered sugar until the mixture becomes so stiff you almost have to mix it with your hands.
5. Sprinkle plenty of powdered sugar on a counter (cover with waxed paper or parchment paper for less mess), and coat the rolling-pin with powdered sugar too.
6. Turn candy onto counter, and fold and knead as if it’s bread dough and the powdered sugar is flour, adding more sugar as necessary.
7. When the “dough” is no longer sticky, use the rolling-pin to roll into an oblong shape.
8. Spread peanut butter on “dough.” Skip this step if using peppermint extract.
9. If you like, spread melted chocolate over peanut butter. Do not skip this step if using peppermint extract.
10. Roll candy, starting with the long side like a jelly roll. This is where the metal spatula can help — if it sticks, you can slide it under the roll to loosen.
11. Refrigerate until firm, then cut into thin slices.