Let Them Eat… Potatoes!

From the Inca Empire to Queen Marie Antoinette of France, to the Russian patissiers (pastry chefs), traveled a simple vegetable, to be transformed into a delectable pastry.

inca_king

Here is this civilization which, starting in the early 13th century, in three hundred years grew into an immense empire and, by the time it was conquered by the Spanish, occupied most of South America. According to historical records, it has spread somewhat by conquest, but mostly by peaceful assimilation. The Incas had an elaborate system of religion, culture, and societal structure, yet to the European eyes, they were missing the staples of civilization: the wheel and the animals to drag wheeled vehicles, the metals, such as iron and steel, and, most importantly, the literacy. No wonder Europeans considered them savages, but objectively, “the Incas were still able to construct one of the greatest imperial states in human history” (McEwan, 2006).

moche_pottery

Lacking metals, other than gold, which they had plenty and didn’t really value, the Incas were masters of pottery. This is a drinking vessel, a pitcher, if you will, fashioned as a king’s head.

Here is another one, and you can see the resemblance in style, but the vessel itself is far from royal. Yet, it depicts a very important vegetable, a staple food which in that area dates back to 2500 BCE – a simple potato. Tragically, as we all know, the Incas were conquered, the glorious empire and the majestic kings vanished, but the humble potato survived. It was brought to Spain, together with gold and silver, and planted there, eventually spreading across the entire Europe. It is believed that either Sir Francis Drake or Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes to England, but whoever did it first, second, or third is irrelevant.

By the end of the 18th century, a French physician Antoine Parmentier in his “Chemical examination of potatoes” declared their incredible nutritional value, and the humble “foodstuff of the poor” (Bon Jardinier, 1775) made its way to the royal table. Anything that had anything to do with potatoes became so trendy, that Queen Marie Antoinette once wore a headdress of potato flowers to a ball.

quote-if-the-people-have-no-bread-let-them-eat-cake-marie-antoinette-66-11-58

Poor Marie Antoinette! When told that people are hungry because they have no bread, she naively exclaimed,”Let them eat cake!” and promptly lost her head together with potato flowers. Actually, this is one of the most mis-attributed quotes in history: nobody heard her say that, and the quote had been attributed  to “a great princess,” whoever that might have been.

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Marie Antoinette is dead, potato has become one of the most important food components in Europe, but the cake idea is not forgotten.  One of the most popular pastries in the 60’s and 70’s Russia was called Kartoshka (potato). It looked like a smallish potato with some creamy curlicues on top, and it was full of chocolate yumminess.  Little did we know that it was made of combining all kinds of broken cookies and other leftovers.

krtska 1.jpg

One of the Michloach Manot (food gifts) that we received on Purim contained a pack of chocolate tea biscuits. Since Passover is two weeks away, and I am trying to get rid of all bread and baked goods not acceptable on Passover, I had to use them up. So I remembered the Incas, the Queen Marie Antoinette, and the Russian pastries, and set out to make my own Kartoshka. It’s a no-bake no-brainer: pulverize any cookies or graham crackers into powder, mix it with chocolate cream and peanut butter, add some agave (if you want it sweeter) and some rum – and voila! – eat your hat, your majesty!

krtska 2.jpg

A couple of little secrets: first, before you start pulsing your cookies in a food processor, put them into a plastic bag and break them up. This way you won’t end up with cookie chunks. Secondly, make your chocolate cream first by stirring room temperature butter substitute (I use Smart Balance) with unsweetened cocoa powder, then add the rest of ingredients. Make sure you blend it very well!

krtska 3.jpg

Get ready to make your pastries. Spread some cocoa powder on a sheet of parchment paper. Spread the decoration you want to use on another sheet of parchment paper. I chose to use rainbow sprinkles, to create a festive look. Of course, you can always decorate with some frosting on top.

krtska 4.jpg

You know what a potato looks like! Form a potato, roll it in cocoa powder, and then dip it in sprinkles of pipe some frosting on top. They should be very soft, so refrigerate them immediately and keep them refrigerated until ready to serve.

krtska 5

Poor Queen Marie Antoinette who loved potatoes so much that she decorated her hat with them! Had she known about this delicious Kartoshka pastry, perhaps she wouldn’t have uttered the infamous cake advice, and maybe – just maybe! – would have kept her head!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups biscuits or graham crackers ground into powder (gluten free, if desired)
  • 3 tablespoons Smart Balance or butter substitute of your choice
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder and more for rolling
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon agave, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • Rainbow sprinkles or frosting of choice to decorate

PROCEDURE

  • Break biscuits into small pieces in a plastic bag, use food processor to pulse into fine powder. Make sure no lumps are left.
  • Cream room temperature Smart Balance with Cocoa powder, add the rest of ingredients, mix thoroughly.
  • Spread cocoa powder on parchment paper. If desired, spread sprinkles on another sheet of parchment paper. Form potatoes, roll in coca powder, then dip into sprinkles or, alternatively, pipe frosting designs on top.
  • Keep refrigerated until serving.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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65 Comments Add yours

  1. Absolutely fascinating! I definitely prefer your “potatoes” to the veg variety!:) xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you – so do I! I don’t even have potatoes in the house, other than sweet potatoes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have just tried to eat boiled potatoes….no…much prefer yours! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Boiled potatoes? But they don’t even have chocolate in them – how could one eat them?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. My thoughts precisely…to be honest…they actually looked as if they belonged in the garden!!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Didn’t you mother teach you to always put things where they belong?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’m going right now to hide the rest of the bag in the garden, cunningly camouflaged with the other rock-like objects..!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Oh, you just reminded me: when my brother was just learning to speak, my father did something unthinkable – picked up some deep-fried pies from a street vendor, brought them home, and put the bag with them on a kitchen table. My brother, a curious toddler, grabbed one out of the bag, banged the table with it, and asked, “Stone?”

        Liked by 3 people

      7. Lol oh bless him! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Henrietta Watson says:

    Reblogged this on All About Writing and more.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging!

      Like

      1. Henrietta Watson says:

        You are welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Maybe Antoinette would have dug into your delicacy with great glee and have aced it with, “Let them have Kartoshka” 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think so! It used to be my favorite pastry when I was young. Thank you for your wonderful comment, darling!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome 🙂 You know it is my pleasure to read your posts. Makes me smile always x

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am happy that I can bring a smile into your day!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. KR says:

    Thank you for history tour, It was really interesting. In Estonia started with potato in the end of 18th century. 1893 was published the first Estonina Potato-Recipe-Book, but still. It take a lot of time to use with this strange vegetable 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, so in Estonia potatoes started at about the same time as in Poland – thank you for this information. Thank you for your kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. So it’s a potato-less potato! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Better than a real potato and double chocolate! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love the story. And the pictures look delicious again! I’m shure: Marie would have loved the recipe as well! 😊

    Thanks and many greetings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear, I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Always so enjoy your stories, the history of cooking and food and then your recipes! Added bonus, your beautiful presentation with such fabulous dish ware! Thank you for being a bright light. Happy Spring and Passover!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment! I am so glad you like it! Happy holidays and many blessings to you!

      Like

    1. Thank you! And so easy to make.

      Like

  8. Joëlle says:

    Some people add some mashed potato to their bread dough. My mother-in-law was one of them; it’s amazing how her cooking has made an imprint on me, so much more than my mother’s!
    The French took a while to appreciate this inca root… The story goes that Parmentier had his potato garden guarded during the day but left unprotected at night, so that the local people would be enticed to steal the plants that were apparently so precious! This story is probably not true, but I have always found it amusing and revealing of French temperament 🙄
    Surely they might still come and try to steal your delicious Kartoshka… Make sure your windows are well-closed tonight!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My windows are fine, guarded by two attack cats, but Kartoshka is long gone – who needs thieves when my husband gets to a cookie jar!
      I am familiar with the story about Parmentier’s garden and always found it amusing. I haven’t used it in this post because my concept was to tie potatoes to the royalty, not to the common folk.
      Incorporating mashed potatoes into bread dough is a Polish/Lithuanian/Belorussian practice. Do you like it? I might try with sweet potatoes, after Passover.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Joëlle says:

        I remember it made the dough softer. But gluten-free bread often ends up somewhat gooey, so there is no need for any potato. It’s kind of the opposite problem!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I can see that. We run into the same issue on Passover when most of the time, people use potato starch instead of flour.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello, thank you for another great historical overview and the very intersting recipe. Have a nice day, and a very nice week.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You too, and thank you for your continuous support!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh, its not only a support, we really love your postings.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thank you so much, you made my day!

        Like

  9. Oh yes, potatoes. Because you hit a very sore point here.
    Do you know it? Here where we live, this region is called the “Kartoffel-Pfalz”. Alternatively “Steinpfalz”. Apart from stones and potatoes there a very long time there was nothing apart from stones and potatoes. Now we also have beer and other things, too. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have been to Bavaria, so I am familiar with the region. I don’t know about other things, but if you have beer and potatoes, you should be fine! I managed to get a nice huge green salad at a cafe across the street from Die Alte Pinakothek in Munich, so I was happy, but everyone else there was having beer and potatoes! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh, yes, sounds good. But dont compare Munich with our region. Its 259 km away from Munich, in northern Bavaria, and a little bit more traditional if you know what i mean. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I do, as a matter of fact, but I am not as familiar with your region, unfortunately.

        Like

  10. Wonderul images, and like always a wonderful historical review. Thank you very much. Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Michael, for your kind words and for your support!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like, and I’m sure the same would ring true for this sweet pseudo-spud.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pseudo-spud! Why didn’t I come up with a brilliant name like that? Thank you, Hannah!

      Like

  12. I finally did it, Dolly. Here’s the link: https://thetravellingdiaryofadippydottygirl.com/2017/03/29/spicy-egg-bath-for-your-french-toast/

    Thank you. I had a wonderful time feasting on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. lorigreer says:

    Such fun posts! I really enjoy reading them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Lori! I am glad to be able to bring a smile to your lovely face!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. lghiggins says:

    I had so much fun with your post. I was prepared for a serious discussion about the potato. I should have known it would involve chocolate!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Serious discussion? Me? The last time I had a serious discussion was at my dissertation defense, and that was -ah!- more years ago than I care to remember! Thereafter, I only have serious discussions with my cats. Thank you for your kind comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. You have my mouth watering already. I do know one potato fact. Because they grow below the soil, potatoes survive warfare. That helped make them popular, especially among the poor.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is so true! I’ve heard from people who would dig frozen earth with their bare hands to get potatoes and eat them raw. That happened in an orphanage during WWII.

      Liked by 3 people

  16. I am one who adores potatoes of all types, but I’ve never had THIS kind. But chocolate and peanut butter? I am ALL IN!

    GF cookies are so dear that there are never any left-over, but I’ll bet I can use the flavored GF Rice Checks instead. I’ll let you know when I give it a try.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can use anything you want, including crumbling up the brownies that are too dry. That’s why I suggested these two recipes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I figured that, actually. I stuck them in the freezer (waste not, want not), so when I get a bit of time I’ll give it a try. I’ll bet they’ll work beautifully!
        xx.
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Be generous with that rum, and they will!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ah yes – that’s a trick that generally works pretty well.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

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