January 05, 2011

Carbón Dulce (Sweet Coal)

I always thought that getting coal for Christmas wasn't THAT bad of a punishment for naughty kids. Sure it's not as fun as toys, but at least it has some use, plus it's better than nothing. If it were up to me, I'd give bad kids things like dried up markers, creepy Jack-in-the-boxes, crumbly rocks... Well, good thing I'm not Santa, haha.

To embrace my stance on coal not being a bad present, this year all my friends and family got coal for Christmas... candy coal that is :). Last year I bookmarked a post for it because I thought it looked so cool. Carbón dulce (sweet coal) is a Spanish candy that's often made during the holiday season. It tastes sort of like rock candy, sweet and crunchy, with a pleasant almond flavor from some added almond extract. And it does indeed look very much like coal. Pretty awesome!

Carbón Dulce
adapted from Fragrante Delicia

1 egg white
200 g powdered sugar, plus more if needed
5 drops lemon juice
black food coloring
2 1/2 tsp almond extract
700 g sugar
230 g water

Mix the egg white with the 200 g powdered sugar. The mixture should be thick enough that when cut with a knife, a visible cut remains, so add more powdered sugar if necessary. Then add the lemon juice, almond extract, and black food coloring (enough so the mixture is black).

Measure out 70 g of this egg white mixture and set aside for later; discard the rest of the mixture. Spray a baking pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside for now. Place the 700 g sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and let it boil to 126ºC, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat.

Add the 70 g egg white mixture to the pan and stir until it begins to foam. Then keep on stirring until it becomes thick and grainy (like in the picture above with the pink spatula). At this point, pour the mixture into the parchment lined pan. Let it harden and dry. Then break the candy apart (I broke it into big pieces and placed them in a plastic bag wrapped in paper towels and used a hammer it break it into even smaller pieces).


  1. That really looks like coal. It must have been really hard if you had to use a hammer to break it into smaller pieces! Congrats about being featured on Baking Bites. :)

  2. So cute! It really looks like coal! I'll have to remember this when I have kids :)

  3. It looks like coal! My God. I want some.

  4. That is awesome! It looks just like coal! I'd love to taste it.

  5. Esther: I tried slamming it on the table, but it only broke into large clumps (but maybe that's only because I wanted to avoid damaging my family's table with my candy thumping). So, I thought a hammer would be more precise for making smaller pieces. Thanks for telling me about Baking Bites :).

    Chelsea: I know right? Definitely a fun gift for kids.

    Mr. P & Frankie: Isn't it cool? It's definitely an interesting candy to make because it really does look like coal in the end.

  6. Wow, I love that color. It really does remind me of gritty minerals and earth. But, what a surprise it would be to get something sweet!

  7. Just wanted to say HI and that I've been following your blog. It's kind of awesome. Keep up the good work.


  8. What a great idea! This candy would be perfect as an addition for a holiday gift or as a table center piece. Awesome recipe.

  9. What an awesome, unique idea. Love your creativity!

  10. so much hard work! thank you!! :) DEEEEEliciousness

  11. This is a fun present idea! I'll have to bookmark you for next year! It reminds me of that experiment from biology where you add acid to sugar.

  12. Jessica: It's interesting how the color is different depending on the black food coloring you use. Mine seemed more blue, while for others it seemed more green.

    Grace: HI! Long time no see! Yay, thanks for letting me know you've been following :).

    Medifast Coupon, leaf (the indolent cook), Anatomy of A Dinner Party: Thank you!

    Xiaolu: Thanks! I love finding cool recipes like this one on all those blogs out there.

    Melody: You're welcome. Glad you liked it!

    Wilde in the Kitchen: Hmm, interesting. I think I have to google that experiment :D.

  13. Oh my, I'm Spanish and I buy them every year! Is my favourite candy! lol I thought that in other countries people ate them as well.

  14. Very interesting candy. Did you eat any? I wonder if it makes your teeth look heinous?

  15. Laura: That's really interesting!

    Emily H.: Yup, I try everything I post here to make sure it tastes good. I didn't eat too much since it is sweet, but I suppose if you eat a lot of it, then your teeth would be black from the food coloring.

    Mårtenssons kök: I thought it was good, especially since I like almond flavored sweets.

  16. I am definitely going to have to remember this for Christmas next year. I joked about giving coal to my boss.. maybe next time I can follow through on my threat. ;) Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  17. That's genius! My family are always joking about getting coal for Christmas. Definitely going to make it this year.

  18. The Cilantropist: Hehe, no prob.

    Sarah: Perfect for family, haha.

  19. Hello! I love love love your blog, especially your biscuits. I was just wondering, could you use a different extract other than almond? I was thinking maybe peppermint? Or is the almond specific to the recipe?

  20. frankie & plum: Thank you! I think traditionally the recipe calls for almond extract, but feel free to use whatever extract you prefer. Peppermint sounds like a great idea; it's very wintery :).

  21. can i use black licorice instead of food coloring

  22. About how much does this make?

  23. Anonymous 1: I don't think black licorice can replace the food coloring.

    Anonymous: I used a square 9x9inch pan and then broke it up. So it makes quite a lot of candy.

  24. I've made this recipe twice today (one was baked just slightly too long and one slightly too short) but I tasted both and they both tasted just like sugar. When they're made perfectly, do they have a more almond-y taste?

    1. No, they should taste like sugar since the candy is made, for the most part, out of sugar. I guess you could add more almond extract if you wanted a more almond-y taste.

  25. Do you need to use the lemon juice?

    1. I would assume so, otherwise it wouldn't be in the recipe. I think it's purpose is to add a bit of acidity to cut the sweetness of the candy (like lemon juice in royal icing recipes). But you probably can skip it? Haha, I'm not totally sure.

  26. Mine turned to sand �� lol

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