Sunday, December 7, 2008

Old Fashioned Holiday Divinity

Old Fashioned Holiday Divinity, made the old school way.

Old Fashioned Holiday Divinity

Not many people make divinity in the "old way" anymore and there's two primary reasons I believe. It's temperamental to make and it takes practice, neither one of which anybody is much willing to deal with today. Subsequently, most of us have turned to shortcut methods using the microwave, baking powder, packets of gelatin and marshmallow creme to easily stabilize things and not have to deal with the older, less convenient ways. The old fashioned ways. Not a thing wrong with that, except I do hate to see the death of the old methods.

Divinity, whether made the old fashioned way, or using a shortcut, should never be dry and brittle, or grainy and clumpy, but light, airy and with a creamy, soft bite.

Here's how to make it.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Holiday Divinity

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 20 min |Inactive time: 2 hours |
Yield: 24 to 40 pieces

  • 3 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 24 to 40 whole pecan halves, to garnish, optional

Line a large baking pan with parchment paper or lightly greased wax paper; set aside.

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a heavy pot; cook over low heat stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium high/high and cook without stirring until mixture reaches hard ball stage (260 degrees).

Meanwhile, beat egg whites in a large mixing bowl until stiff peaks form. Pour hot sugar mixture in a thin stream over egg whites while beating constantly at high speed with an electric mixer. Add vanilla, and continue beating 5 to 10 minutes, or longer, until mixture holds its shape and is no longer shiny. Stir in pecans. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper or lightly greased waxed paper, top with a pecan half and let rest until set before storing.

Cook's Notes: Substitute well drained, very dry maraschino cherries or candied cherries for the garnish pecans. Makes 24 to 40 pieces, depending on the size you drop them. Let air dry thoroughly before storing in an airtight container, with wax paper between layers, at room temperature, for up to 2 weeks.

Tips: The old wives tale for candy about rainy and hot, humid days applies here. Humidity is nothing more than water vapor in the air and, as the moisture does with meringue and with many candies, it will almost always affect the way your divinity turns out. Shoot for a 40% or lower level of humidity. I have heard forever do not attempt to make divinity on a rainy, damp day because it just will not set, no matter what, so wait for a clear, dry day to make it, if you don't want to end up with a sticky hot mess.

Separate your eggs when they are cold into separate bowls and then allow the whites to come to room temperature. Transfer the whites only to your mixer bowl to ensure you get no yolk mixed into your whites.

Your mixer bowl must be clean, dry and completely free of any oil, including any body oils from your fingers.

It helps if you have a properly calibrated candy thermometer. To calibrate, bring a pot of water to boil and test your thermometer reading. Attach the thermometer to the side of the pot and check the temperature. At boiling it should be 212 degrees F. unless you live at a high altitude. If if isn't, you'll need to make manual adjustments against your actual thermometer reading to be sure you are reaching the correct temperature.

You can sometimes correct a divinity fail. If it is too stiff, add very hot water, beating in a half tablespoon at a time until it reaches a fluffy consistency. If it is too thin and does not set, try adding 1/2 tablespoon at a time of powdered sugar until it thickens.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on December 7, 2008
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