Now if I were a typical food blogger, I’d start this post by telling everyone how excited I was that Christmas was coming and how stressed I was that I hadn’t bought enough stuffing for the turkey had only baked 1000 odd cookies for my wonderful friends and family and how fast the days were going by and how worried I was that my handmade Christmas tablecloth hadn’t arrived.
But the thing is, I’m not worried in the slightest…
I don’t buy Christmas presents,
I don’t cook Christmas dinner
and I only bake when I feel like it (which incidentally is pretty often but anyway) what I mean is, I don’t let all that stuff get to me, I prefer , instead to create different kind of Christmas list, one where I think of all the nasty people who don’t deserve Christmas gifts and what kind of present I’d like to give them! You know who I’m talking about, the annoying self obsessed friend, the nasty boss. HMRC!
Now before you start screaming Scrooge at me, I’m cool with Christmas cheer but not so cool with Christmas queues and unnecessarily high credit card bills.
You see, not so long ago, I decided that I was going to win the lottery,
notice I said win and not play.
I’d managed to convince myself and my friends that within days I’d be the richest person they’d ever met. I had a list of people who had asked me to buy them a house. Sure! I thought. they’ll be plenty left over. I dreamt of my winnings and assured my family, the money wouldn’t change me and everyone, well almost everyone would be taken care of and went off to buy my lottery ticket.
I hadn’t played the lottery in a while, pretty much since it started, I didn’t even know where to buy a ticket and happened to walk by a newsagents and saw a big lottery ticket sign in the window ‘it’s fate!’ I told myself and strode in with a smile a bit too big for the average Londoner during rush hour,
“HI!’ I almost shouted “I’d like to play the lottery!”
Which one dya wanna play ?” the guy mumbled without even looking up from his evidently fascinating Argos catalogue.
“Er, I dunno!…”
There was an beautiful array of shiny lottery tickets, a bit like the lottery ticket chocolate factory, well…minus the chocolate, being the taurean I am, I was overwhelmed by choice and immediately started dithering. I rooted into my purse and discovered I had exactly one pound on me. “I’ll go for the £1 one please” Even though he was rude, I am English so can’t forget my manners.
I was waiting for him to ask me for those lucky numbers, only to find him shoving a pre-printed ticket in my hand…again,…..without looking. Pfffffff ‘Where’s the fun in that?’ I thought, slipping the lucky ticket into my bag as I walked out. I told the glutenites my story and they just shook their heads pitifully, but I still kept my hopes up, wondering how many Kitchen Aids I’d be able to fit in my new kitchen.
So Saturday came and I sat waiting in front of the T.V. for my numbers to be called. Just before the start of the show, I heard the front door slam and The Cynic walked in the door beaming, “Where’s your ticket then?” he asked. ‘It’s fate’ I thought, this is really gonna happen. So the presenter rambled on in her glittery dress for way too long, shaking hands with the cast members of TOWIE , chattering with far too much enthusiasm for my liking about their Christmas single……
pessimists realists among you would have figured out by now that I didn’t win the lottery, the glass half full kind will still be holding their breath, clutching on to their laptops, Ipads, Iphones [delete as appropriate] sobbing ‘say it ain’t so’, hate t0 disappoint you guys, but I’m the same old girl you always knew……minus the lottery ticket (I threw the ‘lucky’ ticket in the bin).
A few days after my lottery disappointment, however, I got a letter from HMRC. I think that’s the IRS in the States and well… we all know what that feels like! I cautiously opened the letter and to my surprise, discovered that they writing to let me know that they were owing me some money and would be sending a cheque in the post to follow the letter!
Now before you all get your bucket lists out, it wasn’t that much, just enough to have a really nice gluten free Christmas meal . That’s one less person to send my Christmas coal candy to….I guess, sometimes the bad guys aren’t so bad after all.
Christmas coal candy (Carbón dulce)(Tip) I imagine many of you don’t generally have sugar thermometers lying around the house, I make my own creams, lotions etc..so tend to have a couple new ones spare, if you don’t, don’t fret, just look at picture 2 to guide you, the whole sugar boiling process only takes about a minute.
Step 1: Coal mixture
- 1 egg white
- 1 1/2 cups/200g icing sugar ( you’ll most likely need more to thicken the mixture)
- 1 1/2 tsp black gel food colouring
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 1/2 tsp of almond extract or 5 tsp if you’re using almond flavouring
Put the icing sugar into a large bowl, then add the the rest of the ingredients and mix well, you have to mess around with the texture by adding more icing sugar and black food colouring to get the perfect thickness and colour. When you’ve achieved the right texture, the mixture will be thick and a little tough to mix, will have a glue like texture and slowly drop off the whisk in huge clumps (See picture below) Set aside for later.
Step 2. Sugar mixture
- 3 cups/600g golden granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup/50ml water
Combine water and sugar in a large non stick saucepan and stir together, it should resemble wet sand at this point. Boil the mixture until it reaches 126°C/258°F(See tip/photo below).
Pour the coal mixture into the sugar mixture and stir until it becomes thick and grainy. You have to work quite quickly at this stage, because the sugar starts to harden and stick to the pot.
Pour the mixture into the baking tray and leave to harden.
Once it’s dry you can break it apart, I went for the ‘sophisticated method’ and banged it on the side of the worktop and that did the trick, but a rolling pin, hammer or anything heavy should work, after the original crack you can break it up with your fingers.
Package and wrap up for your naughty friends!Recipe adapted from flagrante delicia
Carbón dulce/Charbon sucréAstuce: Si vous n’avez pas de thermomètre a bonbon, pas de panique, voyez la photo 2 que j’ai pris pour vous aider et cuire environ une minute.
Étape n°1- mélange charbon
- un blanc d’oeuf
- 1 1/2 c à c du colorant gel noir
- 200g sucre glace
- 1/2 c à c de jus de citron
- 2 1/2 c à c d’extrait d’amande
Préparez une plaque à four rectangulaire avec du papier sulfurisé.
Dans un saladier, fouettez le sucre glace avec le reste des ingrédients, vous allez devoir tripoter avec les ingrédients, ajoutant un peu plus de sucre glace pour atteindre la bonne texture et plus du colorant pour atteindre une couleur bien noire. A la fin, le mélange aura une texture un peu comme la colle, en soulevant le fouet, le mélange tombera très lentement en grumeaux ( Regardez la photo 1) Laissez de côté
Étape n°2- mélange sucre
- 600g de sucre cristallisé
- 50ml d’eau
Incorporez l’eau et sucre dans une casserole anti adhésif et mélangez, le mélange ressemblera à du sable mouillé. Faites bouillir le sucre jusqu’à 126°C/258°F (Voyez astuce/photo 2). Remuez pendant deux minutes, le mélange aura une texture épaisse et granuleuse. Il faut faire vite parce que le sucre a déjà commencé à durcir et peut se coller au fond de la casserole (Voir photo 3).
Versez le mélange dans le plaque a four préparé.
Emballez et offrez à vos amis polissons!Recette adaptée de flagrante delicia