My mother emailed me the other day and was like, “You need to make your Great Grandmother Roy’s Needhams. They’re a Maine tradition!” My first thought was, “Whaaaaat?” But then she stipulated not to use Russet potatoes and I was like, “Oh, right” because I remembered her baking fail from years earlier. 😛
What are these beautifully shiny candies, you ask? Well, they are essentially homemade Mounds bars. Sweet, flaky coconut dipped in your chocolate of choice. I was never big on coconut when I was a child. If someone passed me one of these at Christmas I’m sure I would have stuck out my tongue and raided the deviled egg tray instead. 😛 You should know that I made 36 deviled eggs last week and only ate 5 before the party. Tell me that’s not progress.
But these are amazing. Sounds a bit cliche, but I really do think they are better than the candy bar.
I told my mother that I’d make them if I could use the same recipe as my great grandmother. She did some digging and found that it was basically the same recipe listed here, with the only difference being that she would only make half a batch and would sometimes split the filling in two and dye one half green and the other half red for Christmas. For the sake of ease I’ll go ahead and make a printable recipe card for the end of this post and credit Mimi in Maine for all her hard work (I checked: No relation to Mariah Carey). Her instructions are a tiny bit lacking so I’ll be sure to fill in all of the missing gaps, courtesy of my mother (who I texted in a panic more than once).
This is like the quintessential little old lady recipe, and I just love it. I mean, wtf is paraffin wax, right? I’d honestly never heard of it before that day. But clearly it’s still used in abundance if my grocery store stocks it and I can’t even onion bagels there. 😛
But seriously, let’s get started. Christmas is so close and I still have 2-3 recipes left to post! I’m also a poet.
I decided to make the recipe exactly as written, though I think it could be updated to make it even easier. For example, to start you’re supposed to melt the butter over a double boiler and then stir in the rest of the filling ingredients, but after doing it I realized that it would have been much faster/easier to just melt the butter in the microwave. It’s all good though. Perhaps a gentle melting is what I was after.
Mimi in Maine doesn’t specify what type of potato to use in the recipe, but my mother insists that it must be white potatoes. Something about flavor and starch levels and whatnot. Mimi also simply says “mashed potatoes, unseasoned” which sort of leads you to wonder if you should add milk to get creamy, or what. The answer is no! Just boil 2-3 peeled and chopped potatoes until tender (like 6-8 minutes) and then mash them the best you can with a fork. You’ll find that it’s impossible to get them smooth this way, but no worries, you can just pick out the big chunks later. Overall you’ll need 3/4 of a cup of potato.
The filling will be thick due to the 2 lbs (!) of powdered sugar. But please, it’s the holidays. And these will be cut into 1-inch pieces anyway. Don’t freak out! Mixing this stuff is a bish. You’ll have to use your hands to make sure it’s all thoroughly combined. And one other thing—grease your baking sheet like a boss and add some wax paper for added protection. If you don’t, you’re gonna have a bad time.
So at this point you basically wanted to coat your hands and press the mixture down flat into the pan. This is also when the huge chunks of potato rear their ugly heads. I asked my mother and she said that seeing little bits of potato is normal but you should definitely pick out any big ones. At this point we’re halfway through the recipe and it’s only been like 8 minutes! Score. But the next step is to let this mixture harden a bit, which takes some time. It’s achieved a lot faster if you pop the tray in the refrigerator or freezer. You basically want it firm enough where you can cut it with a knife easily.
So after about 30 minutes I went ahead and cut some little squares. And since this disposable pan had slanted corners I also decided to do some taste testing. Insanely delicious. I popped the tray back into the freezer while I got started on the dipping chocolate.
Back to the double boiler! You simply allow the wax to melt…
Then stir in the rest of the chocolate. Sorry about this horrible photo quality, there was a, um, earthquake. But I’m sure everyone has seen melted chocolate before.
And here is the dipping station. I just brought the whole double boiler right to the table so that the trapped steam would help to keep the chocolate fluid.
And per usual, I used the fork method. One fork to pry the little squares off my tray and then another fork to do the dipping. You can use your (clean) fingers to sort of smooth out the edges of the square, but I’m pretty sure I stopped bothering after like the third one. I’ll tell you one thing though, you may think you want to dip your finger in this chocolate and give it a little taste, but you would be wrong. You can definitely taste/feel the wax. What’s interesting is that you don’t taste it at all once the chocolate sets. But if wax freaks you out you could always try replacing it with some melted Crisco, it just won’t be as shiny. I guess you could also try tempering your own chocolate.
ha ha ha One day I will succeed at tempering. 🙁
The good news is that these candies set in just a couple of minutes.
I actually only dipped half the batch and saved the rest for the next day. It was super easy to just heat up the chocolate again and start dipping.
And of course now I’m all excited about Valentine’s day.
If you love coconut, these are a must try! And if you do please let me know how they turn out. I’ve been saving these for Christmas morning (going to stop by a neighbor’s house) but I honestly haven’t been able to stop eating them.
Until next time <3
- 2-3 average sized white potatoes
- 1⁄2 tsp salt
- 2 lbs (one bag) powdered sugar
- 1⁄2 c (1 stick) butter
- 2 (7 oz) bags flaked coconut
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 (12 ounce) package chocolate chips (I used semisweet).
- 4 unsweetened chocolate squares
- 1⁄2 of one paraffin wax block
- Peel, chop and boil potatoes until tender. After draining, mash them the best you can with a fork until you have approximately 3/4 c of potato.
- Melt the butter over a double boiler (or in the microwave) and stir in the potatoes, both bags of coconut, salt, powdered sugar, and vanilla. The mixture will be extremely thick and you'll need to use your hands to ensure it's all combined.
- Dump the mixture onto a greased and lined cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. With lightly dusted hands press the filling down flat so that it reaches all sides. Remove any large chunks of potato.
- Place the tray into the refrigerator or freezer until it is firm enough to cut with a knife (about 30 minutes in the freezer).
- Melt the paraffin wax in a double boiler and then add both chocolates, stirring until completely melted and smooth.
- Cut the filling into small 1 inch by 1 inch squares, then dip each square into the chocolate and set on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
- Wait a few minutes for the chocolate to set, then enjoy!