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!

43 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for the story and the wonderful Kartoshka, which I had never heard of before!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Dorothy; it’s such an easy and delicious little treat to make!

      Like

  2. CarolCooks2 says:

    These sound very moreish, dear Dolly I’m sure the children would love them (minus) the rum 🙂 and I would love them (with) the rum but minus the sprinkles 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Carol. My grandkids love making them, and I substitute almond cream for rum, which they also love.

      Like

      1. CarolCooks2 says:

        Nice.. That sounds like a plan dear Dolly… 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Perhaps Lily would like it too? Just thinking…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. CarolCooks2 says:

        I’m sure she will, dear Dolly.. It involves sprinkles.. Lol

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ah, little girls with sprinkles, sparkles, and unicorns!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. CarolCooks2 says:

        Just the sparkles on food for Lily now she has forgone the unicorns etc and black is her favourite colour with maybe a touch of purple or white/silver which is her only nod to a bit sparkle at the moment…:) x

        Liked by 1 person

      6. She is past the pink and lavender stage, then. Not so Shira.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. CarolCooks2 says:

        Most definitely she wants to copy her big brother…I tease her and say I’m going to buy the pink one and her face is a picture…lol xx

        Liked by 1 person

      8. That’s cute! What is the age difference between them?

        Liked by 1 person

      9. CarolCooks2 says:

        8 years, Dolly…Lily idolises her big brother although she is going to be the taller of the two before long…Aston takes after his father and Lily seems to have more of her mothers genes and already is quite tall for her age although boys are later in my experience and can suddenly shoot up in height 🙂 x

        Liked by 1 person

      10. That explains giving up “girly-girlish” things. Shira is following her two older sisters, mother, aunt, and the other grandmother, who are all girly and glittery ad nauseum (that’s only my opinion, of course, and I have always been tom-boyish).

        Liked by 1 person

      11. CarolCooks2 says:

        Yes I suppose it does apart from me she is surrounded by males 🙂 x

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the addition of peanut butter to the “potato”. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Ronit; Iam so glad you approve.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    SOUNDS GOOD—-AND THE KITTEN IS CUTE!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging, dear friend.

      Like

      1. ORT-ORT-ORT-! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This sounds like a fun project for the children when they come over, they won’t mind getting the broken cookies served this way.

    Like

  6. lghiggins says:

    What a fun post from the Incas to Marie Antoinette! What a great way to get ready for Passover!

    Like

  7. Fun links – I think I would prefer potatoes 🙂

    Like

  8. Very creative and a great history lesson too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Jeanne, and the bonus is, grandkids love making them (I substitute almond cream for rum).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When the grandkids enjoy making them with grandma, that is just perfect. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging, dear Edward.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Tanooki says:

    Looks yum❤️ Thank you for the recipe😋

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, darling!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Lulu: “As a wise hobbit once said, ‘Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew!'”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Lulu girl! We also love hobbits, but Mama never lets us taste potatoes.
      The Cat Gang.

      Like

  11. Appreciate your potato history.
    Art

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting, Art.

      Like

  12. LAMarcom says:

    I’ve got to study this in greater detail

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Lance.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. LAMarcom says:

    It was entirely my pleasure.
    You have a great blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks, dear friend!

      Like

  14. Americaoncoffee says:

    Your Kartoshka is the embodiment of appreciation. I loved your story and food. The Inca traditions reminds me of Egypt… and so Pangea is a reality for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for a lovely comment, darling; I am so glad you liked it!

      Like

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