Potatoes sure have a special place on the Holiday table around here... Not only because they prominently feature in my home region's specialty (tourtière), but surprinsly, in desserts, too. This never occured to me as odd, until now.
But good odd, or maybe, just nostalgically good odd for me.
Like a lot of people do around here during the Holidays, my mother makes fried donuts every year, which we eat dipped in powder sugar. True story: the Christmas I spent in Germany, my mother sent me a care package, which included all kinds of things that reminded me of home. Even a Ziploc bag full of her donuts. And since she (needlessly) feared I could not get my hands on powder sugar there, she also included a bag of the stuff. Yes, you're read that right. My mom once sent me a small plastic bag full of white powder overseas. And it never got opened.
Anyway, her recipe calls for... you've guessed it, potatoes. They apparently give a pleasant chewiness to the fried dough.
My mom's potato donuts
1 cup cold mashed potatoes
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons melted butter
1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1/2 cup of milk
Oil for deep-frying
Add the sugar and butter to the mashed potatoes. Sift the flour with the yeast and mix in slowly, alternating with the milk. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface to about an 3/4 inch thick, cut donut shape with cutter (or alternatively, a glass and a sewing dice). Pour oil into a large pot, heat to 325 F, and carefully fry the donuts a few at a time, until golden brown (which only takes a minute or two)! Take out with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain excess oil.
Potatoes are also the star ingredient of another sweet that reminds me of my childhood a lot. Contrary to the donuts, I haven't seen or eaten it in years, though. It's gotten out of fashion, which I guess is a little understable, but still sad. I mean, it was good, but it also makes me realize this was the product of a (largely gone) society which didn't really have elaborate means, skills, or fancy tastes... Just like tourtière, it's more of an unrefined thing that people came up with because they "didn't have much and had to make do".
1/2 cold mashed potatoes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups powder sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, your choice)
Mix the vanilla with the potatoes. Mix in the sugar, a little at a time with a wooden spoon. Knead the dough a little, until firm but supple, a little like pâte brisée. Place parchment or wax paper onto a work surface, spinkle with a little powder sugar, and roll out the dough. Heat peanut butter into the microwave for a few seconds, then spread over dough.While lifting the paper as a guide, roll the dough onto itself to form a log. Wrap in plastic, and chill in the fridge for an hour. Cut log into slices, which will look like little spirals.
Seriously, the potato/sugar mix seems unlikely, but it works!