Christmas Coal Candy

I think we’ve all met a few people who deserve a lump of coal from Santa, and I’m not talking about the cute candy version I’m sharing with you today!

Coal candy is perfect for those on your naughty and nice list.  It looks much like a lump of coal, but is sweet and sugary with an unexpected crumbly texture. I found it on one of my favorite sites – Fragrante Delicia – which you should certainly check out!

My first batch failed because I cooked the sugar too long and it liquefied.  The end result was a shiny block of black candy which was pretty, but far too hard to eat!  I got it right the second time, and as it cooked, I wrote down important visual cues to look for as it is being made.

Is there anything better than faking out your friends and family at holiday gatherings?  I think not.  I hope you’ll cook up a batch of your own for the ultimate “naughty” stocking-stuffer.

Christmas Coal Candy  (Carbon Dulce)

Recipe adapted from Fragante Delicia, with my commentary                                      [click for printable version]


Step 1:

1 egg white

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar divided, plus a little extra might be needed for thickening purposes

1 1/2-2 tsp. black gel food coloring such as Wilton brand

1/2 tsp. lemon juice

  1. Whisk together 1 cup of the powdered sugar along with the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.  
  2. Whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar. The mixture should be very stiff as you whisk.  Pick up some of the batter with the whisk, and allow it to fall back into the bowl.  It should cling to the whisk when you pick up the batter, and fall in thick heavy pieces back into the bowl.  If it does not, add a little more powdered sugar until this consistency is achieved.
  3. Set aside while you cook the sugar (next step).

Step 2:

3 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

  1. Line an 8×8 (or similar size) heat-proof pan with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. Combine water and sugar in a large non-stick saucepan.  Mix sugar and water together by stirring and mashing them together with a heat-proof spatula until it is the consistency of wet sand.  
  3. Insert a candy thermometer and let the mixture cook until it reaches 258-260 degrees.  The mixture will stay grainy and look weird and you might think you’ve done something wrong but you haven’t.  When it’s close to the 250 degree mark, the mixture may begin to lightly brown from cooking.  It should still be grainy and not in a liquid state.
  4. When 258-260 degrees is achieved, add the black egg white/powdered sugar mixture to the pot and stir (don’t whisk) with a heat-proof spoon.  The mixture may foam, so be careful!  
  5. When thoroughly mixed, pour into the prepared pan and allow to stand until hardened.   When hardened, break into pieces.

Notes:

  • I used a chisel and hammer to break the candy into chunks.  It’s certainly a hard candy, but it has a break-away crumbly quality too. You might get away with cracking it on the edge of a kitchen counter top, though I’d imagine that method is messier.
  • Make sure you achieve a deep black color with the gel food coloring, otherwise your finished candy may have a purplish hue to it. Black food coloring is funky like that.

Presentation ideas:

  • Small burlap pouches can be easily made or bought for festive presentation . Tie the bag up with a red ribbon and a “naughty” tag.
  • Put a large chunk of coal candy in the toe of a stocking, along with a small hammer.
Follow:
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
87 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rachel @ Baked by Rachel
Rachel @ Baked by Rachel
9 years ago

Brilliant! Totally hilarious and absolutely wrong at the same time. I hope you never have to deal with clients like that again. 🙂

Rosa's Yummy Yums
Rosa's Yummy Yums
9 years ago

Hehehe, that is awesome! Unfortunately, I wouldn't know where to find that black gel food coloring here…

Cheers,

Rosa

Shortty
Shortty
9 years ago

this looks so fun! is the cooked sugar hot enough to cook the egg white in the first mixture? how does the end result taste? thanks so much for all your fun recipes!

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
9 years ago

The large amount of powdered sugar keeps the egg white from cooking. It tastes like pure sugar! Definitely more of a textural treat than a flavorful one.

Thanks KT!

nicole {sweet peony}
nicole {sweet peony}
9 years ago

these are so cool! i can't get over how creative you are… i'm always in awe of your creations! this is such a fun idea! thanks so much for sharing heather 🙂

Lauren Hairston
Lauren Hairston
9 years ago

Such a cute idea! I want to try out the recipe just to see what the coal-texture feels like!

P.S. Whenever I see a statue of Jesus my first thought is, "sexy." Don't even get me started on Indonesian cat carvings. 😉

Kelly | Eat Yourself Skinny
Kelly | Eat Yourself Skinny
9 years ago

Haha such a cute idea! I'm saving this and making it for my family this year, they'll love it! 🙂

Miss T
Miss T
9 years ago

Im so glad Im not the only one who thinks indonesian cat carvings are sexy. Phew. LOVE THE COAL – this is going to all my colleagues!

Divya
Divya
9 years ago

Ooh my! That's such a cool idea and totally unexpected. I can already imagine the look on my husband's face when I make this.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
9 years ago

I should make this for my brother…

vanillasugarblog
vanillasugarblog
9 years ago

oh don't you just love her site?
she has a cookbook coming out
can you imagine what will be inside that one?
just like her, you are amazing!

LizNewey
LizNewey
9 years ago

How do you think adding flavorings such as a few drops of mint would impact it? Do you think the texture would still come out alright? Just wanted to throw that out there and see what you think before trying it out.

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
9 years ago

I think that would be really cool, and would work if you use candy oil. You know, such as the type that LorAnn sells? Hot candy will seize if very much water is introduced. I'd say you could get away with a couple drops of candy oil. Especially since its flavor is super-strength and you don't have to use much.

I might try it myself! I have some licorice oil and some marshmallow oil on hand… one or the other might go well.

Great idea!

Paula
Paula
9 years ago

I enjoyed reading this post. Hopefully the Christmas Eve shopper was just lonely and is no longer. Love this black coal candy and your presentation of it is fabulous!

Hilary Adams
Hilary Adams
9 years ago

Can't wait to try this! I love the idea!!

Dharma
Dharma
9 years ago

Que interesante receta, me parece genial. Saludos

Unknown
Unknown
9 years ago

so inventive, and seriously looks like coal!

sparkygeek
sparkygeek
9 years ago

That looks amazing! How long do you think the shelf life on it would be? I'd love to mail some out as a gift, but am wary since the egg white doesn't cook all the way.

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
9 years ago

Hi sparkygeek!

I'd say… probably 2 weeks? This is the first time I've made it, so I can't say for sure. It is dry and a little chalky, so it seems to me that it would be very stable to ship.

The egg white definitely cooks all the way when it is poured into 260 degree sugar! No worries there!

Thanks!

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

This is so fun! haha love this idea!

Jessica @ How Sweet
Jessica @ How Sweet
9 years ago

Only you could come up with something so fun. I LOVE IT!

Unknown
Unknown
9 years ago

Cute! You did such a great job with visually showing how to do it! Happy Holidays!

Gloria
Gloria
9 years ago

This is amazing, Heather! YOU are amazing to find something like this! It is so magical and fun, yet might scare some little kids at first. They will think Santa is mad at them. LOL! Love it.
Best,
Gloria

Nic@diningwithastud
Nic@diningwithastud
9 years ago

What a great novelty! I love this for the kids haha

Sophie
Sophie
9 years ago

wow, I have never ever seen coal candy before! Pretty darn amazing!

Laurie {Simply Scratch}
Laurie {Simply Scratch}
9 years ago

This is hilarious! You ROCK!

Unknown
Unknown
9 years ago

I've seen those coal candies around some stores, and I've always wanted to try one. They look and sound interesting.

And I know what you mean about late night customers. I get them all the time at the dry cleaners and all I want to do is close up and go home, but they insist that I unlock the door and take their clothes.

mjskit
mjskit
9 years ago

When I saw the picture I really thought it was coal! You did a perfect job with the texture and color to make it look like coal. I love this idea and I know just who to give it to! 🙂 Thanks for the technique pic.

Rituparna
Rituparna
9 years ago

This is too good. I just love your blog for all the interesting surprise you spring at us. I have to make this soon.

cookies and cups
cookies and cups
9 years ago

That's awesome! I thought it was made from Oreo! You are the smartest 🙂

Lauren at Keep It Sweet
Lauren at Keep It Sweet
9 years ago

That man did sound super inconsiderate and I'd say he does deserve coal for Christmas!

Love this coal candy, amazing!

Valerie Harrison (bellini)
Valerie Harrison (bellini)
9 years ago

What fun!!

Lili
Lili
9 years ago

Your place is always so much fun Heather. I love the way you put all this together with the peek of Christmas greens and the sweet little burlap bags and of course that "naughty" tag is just perfect! xoxo ~Lili

Heather@KidsintheSink
Heather@KidsintheSink
9 years ago

haha! What a cute idea! I will definitely be putting this in stockings!

Lora
Lora
9 years ago

This is fabulous and hilarious at the same time. Anyone would be lucky to find these lumps of coal in their stocking at holiday time.

Sue @ Cakeballs, cookies and more
Sue @ Cakeballs, cookies and more
9 years ago

Okay that is hilarious, and "Sexy" all at the same time;p

Yuri - Chef Pandita
Yuri - Chef Pandita
9 years ago

Love it!

Amy {The Idea Room}
Amy {The Idea Room}
9 years ago

Oh my Goodness! I love this and know just who to make it for…as a joke of course! 🙂 Thanks for sharing it. I am also sharing this with my FB fans and hope that you do not mind!

Lindsey @ Hot Polka Dot
Lindsey @ Hot Polka Dot
9 years ago

This is so clever! And so easy too! Thanks for such a creative recipe, Heather!

marla
marla
9 years ago

Girl, you are too much. This TOTALLY looks like coal. I bet it does taste really good though 🙂

Kristen
Kristen
9 years ago

That man sounds like a piece of work. Too bad you didn't have some coal to share with him then as maybe he would have gotten the hint!
Love this idea!

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

Wow, what an unusual approach to Christmas baking! Thank you for sharing the recipe – and your anecdote!

Michelle
Michelle
9 years ago

Well, I tried making it. and I got the sugar and the texture right, but, mine turned out purple on the inside. I used the Wilton gel black coloring, and the bottled lemon juice. What did I do wrong? Do I need to add more black? use fresh lemon? Help please!

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
9 years ago

I would use more black gel food coloring. I used bottled lemon juice, so I don't think that caused the problem. My first batch was purplish, so I upped the gel food coloring.

Black powdered food coloring is super concentrated and can also be used in this recipe. I should probably add that suggestion to the text in this post. You can find it in cake specialty stores and online.

That said, I used gel for the coal in this recipe.

Samantha
Samantha
9 years ago

awesome idea!

Sue
Sue
9 years ago

You always come up with the cutest, most unique recipes to share, Heather. I love your naughty vs. nice photos:) Thanks for sharing your funny story~Yikes! 🙂 XO, Sue

Jenn
Jenn
9 years ago

Wow, this looks great! Can't wait to try it!!

the decorated cookie
the decorated cookie
9 years ago

This is so so gorgeous! I posted a link on Edible Crafts. Ugh, I worked retail for many, many, many years. The night shift at the coffee shop in the heart of DC made for the best stories. Oh, the amount of coal I could've given out.

Kelsey Ann
Kelsey Ann
9 years ago

THIS IS SPECTACULAR!! hmm i wonder if a blend of the naughty and nice would be neat too?!

xoxo

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

I have never tried coal candy, but this post is inspiring me to try only the homemade kind!

Jessie the Possible Baker