Christmas Coal Candy (Black Fudge)

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

Pile of black coal candy for Christmas


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 coal started in Holland in the 16th century.

Black fudge with sprinkles cut into squares

In the days leading up to Christmas, 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.

Stack of three pieces of black fudge

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!

pile of christmas fudge
Traditional Christmas Fudge

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.

black fudge on burlap

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.

Hand reaching in for a piece of black fudge with sprinkles on top

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.

Piece of coal candy with a bite

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.

black fudge on burlap

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.

Black christmas coal candy fudge for pinterest

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

stack of easy peppermint fudge on a white plate

Easy Peppermint Fudge Recipe

Peppermint Fudge is an easy fudge recipe using sweetened condensed milk and white chocolate. Perfect for holiday cookie trays and parties!
See The Recipe!
plate of nutella fudge

Nutella Fudge Recipe

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 on a white plate with a cookies cutter and cinnamon sticks

Gingerbread Fudge

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!
Close up of black Christmas fudge

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

santa cookies
black fudge on burlap

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
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 16 squares



  • 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!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Chef Jessica Anne Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal, Mashed and more!

Read More About Jessica

4.28 from 75 votes (61 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating

Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I’m seriously so in love with the uniqueness and bold color of this candy. Such a fun theme for the holidays!

  2. 5 stars
    How fun! My kids have been good this year but it will be fun to put this out and make them think for a bit LOL.

  3. 5 stars
    What a fabulous recipe! This was way easier than I thought it would be and had the best flavor! Will definitely make again and again!

  4. Hi, I haven’t tried this recipe yet but I have made many fudge recipes with sweetened condensed milk and I believe there is a typo in this recipe. I don’t think that 3 ounces of white chocolate is enough, I have made white chocolate fudge many times and it takes at least 3 cups which is much more than 3 ounces.

  5. Hello, I think this is hilarious but I am not a fan of black food coloring. Could you use black cocoa? I know it would change the flavor but I am thinking in a good way. Thanks.

    1. Black food coloring isn’t the best anyway you put it, I totally get it. You could use black cocoa for coloring but it won’t be as dark and I am not sure how adding a powdered ingredient will play in with the recipe. If I find some time this weekend, I will test it out.

    2. I would think a paste food coloring like Wilton food coloring would work better for a fudge recipe. When used in frosting recipes it doesn’t add moisture to it.

    1. Hi Tricia! I honestly don’t know much about activated charcoal powder, so I am not sure. But I used McCormick Black Food Coloring.