Friday, November 18, 2011

Divinity

If you are one of those people who just asked themselves, "What the heck is divinity?", you are not alone.  This is an old-fashioned candy that was popular around the time of our grandmothers but that has almost disappeared from your modern recipe box.  My grandma taught me how to make it, and it turns out that my 2-year-old loves it, so I had to make my yearly batch.

For a printer-friendly copy of this recipe, click here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EElmaHuOgDGDUgbEXcmTR47K4IQvGWI5N0cHq7Q4Idc/edit

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
3 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

First of all, do not, I repeat, DO NOT attempt to make this without a candy thermometer unless you are at least 80 years old and well experienced.  When grandma used to make this, she would use the "hair up" method, in which the candy was cooked when it formed "hairs" when dropped in ice water.  This stage is also known as "hard ball" to candy makers.  Unless you are experienced, it is difficult to tell when you are in this stage.  The first time that I made it solo, without the thermometer, I either over- or under-cooked it, and when I poured it into the pan, it became so solid that a week with a chisel and boiling water wouldn't get it out.  I eventually had to buy a new pan.  So buy a candy thermometer.  Mine is an old-school glass one that clips to the pan, but you can get fancier models, including an infrared one that you just point at it.

Well, now that I have scared off all of my readers, I can get to the directions.  This is really a pretty fast and easy candy, and tasty, too, so don't be afraid of it.

This is so easy to make if you own a stand mixer, but definitely possible without one.  Start by beating your room temperature egg whites until they are very, very stiff.  I just put them in the stand mixer and let it go nuts the whole time that I am cooking the candy.  You can also use a large mixing bowl and a hand mixer.  Just whip the egg whites up before you start cooking.

Put the sugar, corn syrup, and water into a large pan and stir until it is all combined (it will be a thick slurry).  Clip your thermometer to the side so that the tip is in the candy but not touching the bottom of the pan.  Now crank the heat to high and stand back.  Don't touch it, and just let it go until that thermometer hits 260 degrees F.  This is not the time to go start some laundry, folks.






When you hit that magic temperature, add the vanilla.  Okay, now it is time to run small children out of the room, since you don't want anybody burned.  The syrup is very hot and very sticky and you should really avoid letting any of it touch anybody's skin.  With your mixer going at the same time in those egg whites, slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites, beating until they are combined and creamy.  It should look pretty shiny as well.



Stir in the pecans, then pour into a greased 13x9" pan.  Let it cool completely before you cut it.  You also are going to want to get all of the pans, beaters, etc., soaking in hot soapy water before the candy turns solid.



See, and you thought it was hard!  This candy actually makes itself -- you just have to supervise.  If you have never had it before, the consistency is similar to marshmallows, very fluffy.  They stay a good consistency for a long time, making them a great choice if you are mailing Christmas cookies to someone.

It just wouldn't be the Christmas baking season at my house without a batch of divinity.  If you try it, you will make it part of your tradition as well.

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