Christmas Coal Candy - Coal for Christmas Fudge Recipe (2024)

Looking for a laugh or practical joke around the holidays? Give the gift of coal with this Christmas Coal Candy!

Christmas Coal Candy - Coal for Christmas Fudge Recipe (1)

What's In This Article

Coal for Christmas

This isn’t your typical stinky ore. No, it is a delicious vanilla fudge tinged black with sparkly glitter sprinkles. Not really a punishment, is it?

How did the folklore of coal get started in the US? Some beleive that the tradition of coalstarted in Holland in the 16th century.

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In the days leading up toChristmas, children would leave out their shoes. The children would get coal for bad behavior, but if they were good they got a toy, cookies or candy.

Cookies, candy and toys before Christmas!? YES!


In fact, one of our closest friends is Dutch and his family still has this tradition. Sinterklaas (a version of Santa Claus) and his elves arrives by boat on December 5th for a big festival to kick off the season.

He wears a fancy red cape and is surrounded by his elves, the most famous is named Pete. Up until a few years ago, the elves wore black face paint to symbolize ash from sliding down a chimney, but the times caught up with traditional and now the elves just follow Saint Nick without their makeup.

It’s available streaming every year, totally worth watching to kick off the holiday season and also give the kiddos some cultural education.

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Christmas Coal Candy

This easy fudge recipe uses a fudge making hack, sweetened condensed milk, unlike traditional fudge that melts sugar with sugar corn syrup.

If you want a traditional fudge recipe, or just want to see the differences, check out my Christmas Fudge Recipe– A delicious Almond Fudge made the old fashioned way!

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You don’t have to be as vigilant with the temperature or technique and it has a lot more forgiveness.

While the definition of fudge doesn’t actually include chocolate, many folks automatically connect fudge with chocolate. For my Christmas Coal, I did use white chocolate along with black food coloring.

Black Food Coloring

I will not tell you that you only need a drop. You’ll need a good amount to achieve a black, and not gray, fudge. I topped mine with metallic gray sprinkles to give it a little bit sparkle.

I’ve now made this recipe several times to troubleshoot some common issues and with that, I’ve also tried several types of food coloring.

Gel in a Tube– Black gel worked the best for flavor and color. You’ll only need to use 2 teaspoons and you won’t get the bitter aftertaste. I did notice that going in it looks a little dark navy, but it will ultimately dry black.

Liquid– You’ll find this by McCormick. It looks like an extract bottle but is just black food coloring. You’ll need to use more of this, about 2 tablespoons, and it does give off a bit of a strong aftertaste.

Gel in a Tub– This works just as well as tube, but is a little harder to get out.

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Couple of other common questions regarding the food coloring…

Activated Charcoal- I’ve also had folks ask if they can use activated charcoal or black cocoa to get this signature hue.

Also, both of these are a powdered form and adding a dry ingredient to this recipe would totally throw off the texture.

What does black food coloring taste like? Historically, black food coloring doesn’t taste great, but now days and using this recipe, which is admittedly heavy on the sweet stuff, you can’t taste it that much.

You can also use a stronger flavor, like licorice or peppermint, to mask it.

Will black food coloring stain my mouth? The short answer is yes. But no more than anything else with food coloring or a lollipop.

Where do I buy the sprinkles? These are the ones I use (affiliate) SPRINKLES!

Can I use Milk or Dark Chocolate? Using either or milk or dark chocolate will give you a darker base so presumably you’ll use less black tint. I prefered the white chocolate so I had better control over the color.

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How to Make

To make this Christmas Coal Candy, start by lining an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. This helps the fudge to release from the pan much easier.

Next, heat white chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, butter, salt and vanilla extract in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Make sure you are (while still over the heat) stirring constantly until the mixture is completely smooth.

Do this over low heat to prevent scalding. Also, don’t stop stirring to prevent scalding. It might takes 5-7 minutes of stirring before the mixture it totally smooth.

READER TIP: Use milk chocolate or dark chocolate to reduce the amount of black food coloring needed.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in black food coloring. Depending on which brand you use, you might need more or less than I did. Just use enough to get it to the desired shade.

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After the food coloring is evenly distributed throughout the Christmas Coal Candy mixture, pour it into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with black or silver sprinkles to give your fudge a glittery effect (and a nice crunch)!

I got an awesome suggestion from a reader to roll the chilled fudge into asymmetrical balls and then the sprinkles to get the shape of rocks instead of classic fudge.

Place in the refrigerator and allow to cool completely before cutting. This should take a minimum of 8 hours.

Once completely cooled, you can cut and serve (or prank)! This Christmas Coal Candy would be perfect to serve at any holiday gathering (especially an ugly sweater party!)

Imagine the look on your kids faces when you tell them to go grab a lump of coal. Priceless, I’m sure!


vanilla is the most classic, but feel free to be a little bold and use other flavorings.

  • Black licorice
  • Peppermint
  • Almond
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Rum

Why Didn’t My Fudge Set?

The number one reason fudge doesn’t set is because it wasn’t cooked for long enough or at the right temperature. It must reach the correct temperature for the right amount of time to have water evaporate enough to set the way fudge should.

If you have already put it in the pan and it didn’t set, you can actually transfer it back to a saucepan, add a SMALL amount of water so it doesn’t burn immediately and go through the cooking process again.

I’ve made this recipe multiple now (and today while it was raining and 98% humidity) and had no issues.

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Storage & Freezer

But if you aren’t eating it right away, be sure to store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

How do you store fudge? I like to store mine in the fridge in an airtight container. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes or so before serving to come to temperature.

Can fudge sit out? Yes, you can let fudge sit out, it is cooked. Some folks don’t refrigerate it at all.

How long does fudge last? I would say 2-3 days before it starts to dry out.

Why does my fudge sweat? Fudge has some water in it and if it goes through extreme temperature changes, it will produce sweat.

How do you freeze fudge? Wrap the fudge well in aluminum foil or wax paper, then place in an airtight plastic freezer bag. Push out as much air as possible. Freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw at room temperature.

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If you love fudge as much as I do, check out these other delicious fudge recipes:

Easy Peppermint Fudge Recipe

4.60 from 25 votes

Peppermint Fudge is an easy fudge recipe using sweetened condensed milk and white chocolate. Perfect for holiday cookie trays and parties!

See The Recipe!

Nutella Fudge Recipe

5 from 13 votes

Made with only 7 ingredients, this EASY Nutella Fudge is perfectly creamy and delicious! Perfect for the holidays or a sweet tooth craving!

See The Recipe!

Gingerbread Fudge

4.70 from 10 votes

If you've ever wondered how to make fudge, there is no better homemade fudge recipe than this! Gingerbread Fudge made the old fashioned way!

See The Recipe!

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And if you have someone on your NICE list, consider making them these adorable no Bake Santa Cookies or Christmas Tree Meringue Cookies.

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Christmas Coal Candy

4.28 from 75 votes

This Christmas Coal Candy is the perfect fudge recipe for Christmas! Give as a gag gift to someone who needs coal for Christmas.

Prep Time: 5 minutes mins

Cook Time: 10 minutes mins

Chilling Time: 8 hours hrs

Total Time: 8 hours hrs 15 minutes mins

Servings: 16 squares

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  • 3 cups white chocolate chips
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons gel black food coloring
  • Black or silver sprinkles or sanding sugar , optional


  • Line an 8×8 square baking dish with parchment paper.

  • Heat white chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, unsalted butter, fine sea salt and pure vanilla extract in a heavy bottom sauce pan.

  • Stir constantly until mixture is smooth, approximately 5-7 minutes. Keep over low heat, the process it slow, but if you turn up the heat you run the risk of scalding the mixture. It WILL melt… slowly. If you are at a high altitude, this may take longer than stated, be patient.

  • Remove from heat and whisk in black food coloring. You may need more or less depending on the brand. See notes.

  • Pour into parchment lined dish and spread evenly.

  • Sprinkle with black or silver embellishments, if desired. Allow to cool fully before covering and chilling for a minimum of 8 hours.

  • Lift parchment out of the pan and cut into 1-inch squares.

  • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings.



**I’ve made this recipe multiple times now and made modifications so it should be 100% accurate.**

Use milk chocolate or dark chocolate and you can reduce the amount of black food coloring.

Different brands of condensed milk have varying amounts of water and can take different amounts of time for it to evaporate. I used Eagle Brand when I made this recipe.

Why didn’t my fudge set? The number one reason fudge doesn’t set is because it wasn’t cooked for long enough or at the right temperature. It must reach the correct temperature for the right amount of time to have water evaporate enough to set the way fudge should.

If you have already put it in the pan and it didn’t set, you can actually transfer it back to a saucepan, add a SMALL amount of water so it doesn’t burn immediately and go through the cooking process again.


Calories: 94 kcal, Carbohydrates: 14 g, Protein: 2 g, Fat: 4 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Cholesterol: 12 mg, Sodium: 104 mg, Potassium: 92 mg, Sugar: 14 g, Vitamin A: 110 IU, Vitamin C: 1 mg, Calcium: 70 mg, Iron: 1 mg

Calories: 94

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: American

Keyword: black fudge, christmas coal, coal candy

Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!

Christmas Coal Candy - Coal for Christmas Fudge Recipe (2024)


How do you keep fudge soft? ›

Wrap your fudge in an air-tight container. Several layers of saran wrap, vacuum seal, Tupperware should all keep the moisture locked in pretty good.

How long does it take for fudge to set at room temperature? ›

Once the fudge has thickened and the nuts are added, pour the fudge into the prepared pan. Allow it to set at room temperature until firm, about three hours or overnight.

Can you cool fudge in the fridge? ›

Pour the fudge mixture into the prepared casserole dish and spread out in an even layer. Let the fudge rest at room temperature for 15 minutes before placing in the refrigerator, uncovered. Refrigerate until the fudge is firm, about 2-3 hours (or overnight), before slicing and serving.

How do you make fake coal for decorations? ›

These little fake pieces of coal are fun and easy to make. Cover a piece of paper with craft glue, scrunch it up and let it dry. If you're planning on turning it into a necklace or earrings poke a hole through it using a darning needle then feed your head pin through the hole. You can do this before or after it's dry.

How do you make artificial coal? ›

One way to make the coal substitute is a process known as hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC), which uses superheated water under pressure to produce biocoal in a few hours. It normally takes millions of years for fossil coal to form geologically.

What is the secret to good fudge? ›

Tips for Making Fudge
  • Monitor the Temperature with a Candy Thermometer. If you end up with soft fudge that turns into a puddle in your hands or hard fudge that is a bit reminiscent of a crunchy candy, improper temperature is likely to blame. ...
  • Avoid Stirring Once the Mixture Comes to a Simmer. ...
  • Beat Thoroughly.
Mar 8, 2023

What is the secret to smooth fudge that is not gritty? ›

Once a seed crystal forms, it grows bigger and bigger as the fudge cools. A lot of big crystals in fudge makes it grainy. By letting the fudge cool without stirring, you avoid creating seed crystals.

What makes fudge firmer? ›

Cooking is necessary to dissolve sugar crystals and to evaporate part of the water in the cream. The length of this step has a direct impact on the firmness of the fudge. As water gradually evaporates, sugar is concentrated and the temperature of the mixture rises above 100°C (212°F).

How do you know when fudge is done without a candy thermometer? ›

To test the boiling mixture for doneness, drop a bit of it into a bowl of cold water. If it forms a ball that is soft enough to flatten between your fingers, the mixture is ready for cooling. When the fudge cools to 110 degrees F/43 degrees C, beat the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon until it's no longer glossy.

Why should you not refrigerate fudge? ›

So to recap, it's best to store proper fudge at room temperature. Keeping it in the fridge takes out all its moisture, drying it out. Homemade fudge is best in the fridge. No matter where you store it, the goal is to protect the fudge from exposure to the elements so airtight containers are best!

Why did my fudge come out like taffy? ›

Apart from the incorrect temperature, chewy fudge could result from inadequate beating. When it has cooled to 110 to 113 degrees F (43-45 degrees C), beat until it is creamy and smooth. The process could take between 20 and 30 minutes. The mixture should begin to lose it's gloss and become more matte.

What is the best pan for fudge? ›

Secondly, the pot's material should allow for good heat distribution hence your top choice should be copper cookware or a pot with a copper core. Copper's exceptional heat conductivity offers unparalleled temperature control, an asset when working with finicky ingredients like sugar.

Why does my fudge crumble when I cut it? ›

The ingredients for fudge are combined and cooked to 234 degrees, cooled to 110 degrees without stirring, then beaten until creamy. Candy that isn't cooked long enough will end up too soft; overcooking makes fudge crumbly or hard.

What can I do with ruined fudge? ›

To fix oily, hard or grainy fudge, scoop the fudge back into a pot with about a cup of water. Cook it over low heat until the fudge dissolves. Then bring the fudge back up to the temperature specified in the recipe and follow the remaining steps. The flavor may be slightly diluted, but the texture will be improved.

What does it mean when you give someone a lump of coal for Christmas? ›

By the 16th century, the beast-like Krampus was created as a counterpart to St. Nick to punish naughty girls and boys - sometimes by leaving coal in their stockings! In Italian folklore, the witch La Befana would sneak into homes to leave gifts for good children and lumps of coal for bad ones.

Is it true that you can get coal for Christmas? ›

By that time, many households, especially in the city, used coal for heating. It's easy to imagine Santa snatching a piece of coal from the scuttle and popping it into a child's stocking on his way up the chimney. Today, while the fear of Christmas coal has faded, fake coal is sometimes given as a humorous gag gift.

How long does a lump of coal last? ›

It doesn't matter if you're direct grilling a bacon weave, heating up a rotisserie, or searing a steak, most charcoal products (lump style) last about 2-3 hours. If you buy briquettes, it's 4-5 hours depending on the quality of the raw materials.

Can I make lump charcoal? ›

Sources could be saw mills, construction sites (be sure to get permission and DO NOT use treated lumber), or cutting your own. Basically all you need is the wood, a saw to cut the wood, a metal barrel with a lid, and a place to store the finished charcoal to keep it dry.

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