Potatoes + chocolate = classic Maine Needhams

By Jim Bailey

One average sized white potato should do the trick for this delightfully sweet Maine original. It’s one of those sweet treats whose sugary nature is slightly masked by the addition of potatoes, but without losing its allure.

The origin of Needhams? Do I really need to tell you what the children said when they were first given them? Heck, I need ’um too! As for the second recipe, I really needed to add more chocolate just in case my children didn’t like the classic. If you do not add the marshmallow fluff in it, the texture will be more firm than regular Needhams, but that is your call.

2/3 cup hot, smooth, plain mashed potatoes
1 pound bag (4 1/2 cups) powdered sugar
1 (7-ounce) bag shredded coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips
3 tablespoons vegetable, canola or corn oil *

Make sure your potatoes have just been cooked and mashed. If you want to do this ahead of time, say the night before, cook and mash potatoes, cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to begin recipe, mash the potatoes again to loosen, cover with film wrap and microwave for a minute or two until completely hot.

Place mashed potatoes in a large bowl and add remaining ingredients. With an electric mixer, beat ingredients until as smooth as possible, on low speed.

Transfer Needham dough to an 8-inch pan and smooth the top with a large spoon, dipping in water if needed to prevent sticking.

Cover with film wrap and place in the freezer for an hour to completely firm up. It does not have to be frozen, just really firm.

When ready, melt chocolate chips and oil for 2 minutes and remove to stir until smooth. If there are still lumps of chocolate remaining, microwave for a few seconds at a time, mixing until the melted chocolate is smooth.

Remove Needham pan from freezer and cut into desired sized squares.
Working one at a time, dip each into melted chocolate, turning over with a fork to evenly and completely coat.

Transfer to a rack or plastic wrap-lined pan and continue with remaining squares. Set aside on the counter or refrigerator until chocolate has hardened.

Triple Chocolate Needhams
To make Triple Chocolate Needhams, melt 1 cup chocolate chips with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in bowl for 2 minute. Remove and stir until smooth.

Heat for an additional 15 seconds if needed if there are unmelted chocolate chips. Pour melted chocolate mixture into bowl of hot mashed potatoes, 1/2 cup marshmallow fluff (if desired), 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and remainder of ingredients and follow directions above.

* Or use whatever oil you have on hand.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at theyankeechef@aol.com.

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