January 6, 2010
The bad weather has put a crimp on the holiday celebrations today in the piazza where I live. Usually the local firemen dress up as the Befana ( men usually make the best as they can be really ugly) and "fly" from the local tall building down into the square to hand out candy to the kids that were good this year.
Usually children get a calza, like our christmas stockings, filled with chocolate and small gifts if they were good and chunks of black coal,made from sugar, if they were bad.
Doesn't sound too bad to me either way!
This year I bought some coal, to fotograph for the blog and was going to make some so you all could try at home. Then I thought- who really wants to buy black food coloring to add to their candy? I remembered a trick for making peanut brittle foamy and did some research and found a recipe for American honeycomb candy.
It is basically the same as making the Italian carbone- so if you have any black food coloring- go crazy-
Italian Carbone for La Befana adds 2 tbs of a powdered sugar and egg white glaze at the end and the American version adds baking powder.
American Honeycomb Candy
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons baking soda ( bicarbonata di sodio)
(for the italian "carbone" mix 1 cup of powdered sugar with 1 whipped egg white, use 2 tbs)
Prepare a 9x13 pan, covering with foil. ( if you have a silpat sheet, slip that on to the bottom).
Mix the sugar, corn syrup, honey and water in a thick bottomed pot that is high-sided.
The mixture with expand when the baking soda is added.
Place over med-high heat and cook to the hard crack stage 300F or 140C.
Do not stir- you should clean the sides of the pan of any sugar crystals by letting water drip down off of a pastry brush.
Remove the pan from the stove and add the baking powder all at once and whisk!
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and let sit for an hour to set.
Remove from pan and break up into smaller pieces using a knife.
Save in a airtight tin, to keep it crunchy.
Buona Befana a tutti!!!
Note: next time I am going to use the egg white/powdered sugar mix - I think the baking soda leaves a funny taste, sort of bitter.