Many family stories suggest that this humble sweet, made from just four ingredients, is a Depression-era creation born of frugal ingenuity. But it’s more likely that potato candy made its way to the South with Irish settlers and eventually to tables as a confection reserved for special occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Oddly, the candy doesn’t taste much like sweet potato; in fact, it’s more akin to peanut butter fudge. Cooked sweet potato is simply a binder for nearly two pounds of powdered sugar, making this one very sweet treat.
Sweet Potato Candy
Makes 36 Candies
A simple and sweet Southern treat
photo: Peter Frank Edwards
Sweet Potato Candy
1 small sweet potato
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ to 2 pounds confectioners' sugar
½ cup creamy peanut butter
Pierce the sweet potato with a fork and cook in a microwave oven on high until very tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool completely. Remove the skin. With a potato masher or in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mash the potato until very smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing until soft, slightly sticky dough forms. (It will be the consistency of cookie dough.)
Place the dough in between 2 layers of waxed paper dusted with additional confectioners’ sugar. Roll the dough into a 9- x 12-inch rectangle about ¼-inch thick; spread the dough with the peanut butter. Starting at a long side of the rectangle, roll the dough into a log using the waxed paper to shape it. If the dough begins to stick the to paper, place in refrigerator for 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Slice into ¼-inch-thick pieces. Serve.
Store in an airtight container for up to to 3 days.
Tip: Microwave the peanut butter for 30 seconds to help make it more spreadable.
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