I grew up in the city, but close enough to Dutch country that threats of the Belsnickel still haunt me at Christmas. The Belsnickel dresses in fur, wears a mask with a long tongue and visits naughty children to scare and threaten them into behaving. (Check out Pennsylvania Dutch Night Before Christmas if you want the whole story!) But when those bad kids just refuse to be good, Santa Claus surprises them with a bag of coal instead of shiny new toys on Christmas morning.
But coal candy is for everyone! This traditional Spanish hard candy has a slightly crumbly texture when you crunch it. The traditional Spanish version is lemony, but I wanted something a little more Christmas-flavored, so I went with peppermint extract. This makes a great stocking stuffer or party favor!
Coal Candy (Dolce Carbon) [click to print]
1 egg white
1-1/2 c. powdered sugar, divided
2 tsp. black food coloring
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
3 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. water
In medium bowl, whisk together egg white, 1 c. powdered sugar, food coloring and extract. Gradually whisk in remaining 1/2 c. powdered sugar. The mixture should be thick and stiff and drop off the whisk in globby clumps. If it's too thin and runny, add more powdered sugar, a little at a time. Set aside.
Line 8x8 baking dish (about 2 inches deep) with parchment paper and set aside. Combine water and sugar in pot and stir together, mashing it until it's about the consistency of wet sand. Insert candy thermometer and heat until it reaches 258-260 degrees. Stir the whole time; the mixture will look kind of grainy and weird, so don't worry. When it's around 245-250, it may start browning, but that's okay. The mixture should stay grainy and not liquid.
At 258-260, remove from heat and add egg white mixture to pot and stir. (It might foam, so be careful!) When mixture is well mixed, pour into pan and allow to stand until hardened and cooled. Break into pieces; I used a hammer and screwdriver, it's definitely hard candy!
Source: Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes via Flagrante Delicia