Friday, December 5, 2008


Filbert brittle makes me think of Grandma G. But divinity? Divinity makes me think of Grandma B. I don't have many memories of Grandma B. that come from just-me, as opposed to other people's stories. See, she died when I was just about 3 years old, and the times we'd gone up to Portland to visit, I'd been going to doctor's appointments. My sister got to stay with Grandma, and so has many more direct memories of her. I do remember her holiday candy tray, though, and, especially, the divinity.

The Farm Journal's Homemade Candy offers up the following basic divinity recipe (and several variations that make buying the book well worth your $2):
Sells fast at food bazaars

2 1/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. white corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. water
2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

Place sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 2-qt. heavy saucepan; cook and stir over high heat until sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking without stirring over medium heat until syrup reaches the hard ball stage (255°). Wipe off any sugar crystals that form on sides of pan.

Meanwhile, beat egg whites until stiff. Pour hot syrup slowly over egg whites and beat on medium speed of mixer until candy fluffs up. Add vanilla and continue beating on medium speed, or by hand, until mixture begins to lose its gloss and a small amount dropped from a spoon holds soft peaks. (If the candy gets too stiff for the mixer, complete the beating with a wooden spoon.) Fold in nuts.

Working quickly, drop candy by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper or turn into lightly buttered 8" square pan. If divinity becomes too stiff, stir in a few drops of hot water. Makes about 24 pieces or 1 pound.
Have I mentioned this week that you really, really, truly need to have a decent candy thermometer? You do. Cooking with sugar is all about the temperature, and though you could technically figure out what stage you're at by dropping bits into cold water and then manipulating it, that takes time, and isn't as accurate. Get a candy thermometer. It will make this much easier.

My mom gave me a Betty Crocker cookbook (which I'm sure to feature on Take One Cookbook at some point) when I went off to college. She wrote on the divinity page "do not make on a rainy day." Divinity and humidity do not go well together. Homemade Candy suggests that if you beat the divinity enough, you'll manage just fine. And by "enough," I mean that it could take up to 15 minutes. No, really. If you thought about trying this without a mechanized mixer, the time to rethink that is now.

If you want to do dropped-from-spoons divinity, have a partner, or it's going to set up on you. I remember divinity cut into squares, so I'm guessing that Grandma B. always poured it into a pan. She didn't lack for helpers, mind you; Mom is one of 7 children. But, still, if you've got hot sugar and 7 kids under foot, the quicker path is probably the wiser one.

Unless you're dealing with a taffy pull. Homemade Candy will walk you through that, too. Pick up a copy, and let me know how your creations turn out.

I feel like I should say that, growing up, I always assumed that the Turkish Delight that the White Witch fed Edmund was, in fact, divinity. What else would lead a child to betray his family? It's that good.

1 comment:

  1. i know that i have read about divinity in another novel... now i am desperately trying to remember which...