The Divine-ness of Divinity Candy
Divinity is one of those age-old candies our grandmothers made that is slipping into extinction in the home kitchen. Pity that. Divinity is a light as a feather confection, with a deep vanilla flavor so delicious. Much like a meringue in texture, divinity is delicious by itself and exceptionally useful, as it can be combined with other candy to make really spectacular offerings. Piped into short logs, it makes a delicious white center for pecan logs. Or those logs can be rolled in coconut, nuts, or chopped dried fruits. You can even dip mounds into tempered chocolate that make the most delicious confection imaginable.
Divinity is divinely easy to make and very forgiving along the way. Only two things are required for success: a dry day and a calibrated thermometer allowing you to cook the syrup to its proper temperature. But if your divinity fails to harden, you can beat in two tablespoons of powdered sugar and allow the mixture to rest a few minutes; if the candy hardens too much, you can blend in hot water a tablespoon at a time until the perfect, fluffy consistency is reached.
Divinity, nougat and marshmallow all belong to the same candy family and all three are very, very close kin in terms of texture, flavor and technique.
The following recipe of mine produces a light, creamy divinity that turns out moist every time. From my grandmother’s kitchen to yours, tried countless times with success:
2 large egg whites (at room temperature)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup filtered water (not distilled)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (if desired)
Line a 15×10-inch jellyroll pan with waxed paper, butter the waxed paper well, and set aside.
Place egg whites into the bowl of your stand mixture and set aside to wait for use.
In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, combine the corn syrup, water, sugar and salt. Place over low heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches a rolling boil.
Clip on your calibrated candy thermometer. Reduce heat to medium to maintain a full (but not rolling) boil. Cook syrup, without stirring, to 252 degrees (F). Just before your syrup reaches this temperature (around 250 degrees), begin beating the egg whites with your whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Remove the whisk and replace with your paddle beater.
Remove the completed syrup from heat and allow the boiling to completely subside (about 1 minute). Pour the syrup carefully into a heat-proof large Pyrex measuring cup to make pouring in the next step easier. Do not scrape the pan.
With your mixer on high speed, slowly and gradually begin to add the hot syrup to the egg whites. Once you begin to pour the syrup, do NOT stop and do not scrape the mixing bowl. When all the syrup has been combined, continue to beat the mixture until it begins to lose its gloss and holds its shape in stiff peaks. (This takes about 10 minutes of solid beating.)
Next, add the vanilla and beat well. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and fold in the nuts, if desired.
Using two large spoons, drop spoonfuls of the mixture into mounds onto the waxed paper. Allow to rest undisturbed for two hours, or until the mounds are at room temperature. Carefully peel from the waxed paper and store on layers of waxed paper in an airtight container for up to two weeks. I always press one-half of a maraschino cherry on top of each mound. “Southern Divinity” is traditionally garnished with a pecan half on top.
Divinity also freezes exceptionally well for longer storage.
Makes about 40 pieces of candy.
Cherry-Nut Divinity: Fold in 1/2 cup of chopped, well-drained maraschino cherries with the chopped nuts before spooning out mounds.
Strawberry Divinity: After beating your egg whites to the soft-peak stage, sprinkle a package of strawberry gelatin over the egg whites and beat again at medium speed until all of the gelatin has been incorporated. Increase your mixer speed to high and begin to add the hot syrup and continue as directed above. Garnish with a slice of fresh strawberry.
Peppermint Divinity: After beating your egg whites to the soft-peak stage, add 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint oil to the egg white and continue to beat on high speed for another minutes. **You may also add 3 drops of red food coloring. Then begin to add the hot syrup and continue as directed above. Garnish each mound with finely crushed peppermint candies.
Cappuccino Divinity: Just before removing your cooked syrup from the heat, add 2 tablespoons of dark rum to the syrup and allow to “boil in” (do not stir). Once boiling has ceased, pour the syrup into your Pyrex measuring cup. Add the hot syrup to the beaten egg whites. As soon as the mixture begins to lose its gloss, add 2 teaspoons of instant coffee powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and continue to beat until incorporated. Spoon into mounds as described above. Garnish with ground coffee beans (ground in a mortar & pestle).
Kahlua Divinity: Just before removing your cooked syrup from the heat, add 2 tablespoons of Kahlua to the syrup and allow to “boil in” (do not stir). Once boiling has ceased, pour the syrup into your Pyrex mixing cup. Add the hot syrup to the beaten egg whites. As soon as the mixture begins to lose its gloss, add 1 teaspoon of instant coffee powder and beat well to blend. Continue as directed above. Garnish with ground coffee beans (ground in a mortar & pestle).
Godiva Divinity: Use the same method as in making Kahlua Divinity, but substitute 2 tablespoons of either Godiva dark chocolate or white chocolate liqueur and continue as directed. Garnish the mounds with dark chocolate shavings.