One of the fondest memories of my childhood was when a day was nice enough for my grandmother to make divinity. If you aren't familiar, divinity is a candy similar to nougat, made with egg whites, corn syrup, and sugar. You can also replace the sugar with brown sugar and end up with another candy called "sea foam".
I collect vintage cookbooks and recently acquired a new batch. The first one I really dove into is "Homemade Candy" by the Editors of the Farm Journal. As soon as I came across the recipe for divinity, I started flashing back to my grandmother's kitchen. But then I turned the page, and I had my world rocked...flavored divinity. I had never heard of such a thing, so I knew it had to be the first undertaking for my blog.
sugar syrup bubbling away
Divinity has a bad reputation for being difficult to make. The first and most important factor in making a good batch of divinity is the weather. It needs to be a nice day out -- moderate temperatures and low humidity. Anyone from the South knows this kind of day can be hard to come by, so you have the take advantage of "Divinity Weather" whenever you're lucky enough to get it. The second factor, which is almost as important as the first, is patience. When the sugar and corn syrup mixture is on the stove, stir to your heart's content until the sugar melts. Once the sugar has melted, clip on your candy thermometer, and walk away. Get these two things right and divinity's a snap to make.
I decided to make Strawberry Divinity because I refuse to let go of strawberry season. It's been really hot this year, so strawberry season came and went about a month early. The divinity came out with a nice strawberry flavor. The recipe uses one of my secret ingredients when I want a super strong fruit flavor -- strawberry gelatin. It works. It is also screaming, bright pink.
1/4 t cream of tartar (this helps stabilize the egg whites)
1 3-oz package strawberry-flavored gelatin
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c chopped pecans
1 c chopped freeze-dried strawberries (I got mine at Target on the aisle with the kids snack foods)
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until the sugar dissolves. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of your pan and continue cooking over medium heat, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 255°F.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Add the salt and cream of tartar; increase the speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form. Once you have stiff peaks, add the gelatin and mix on high until combined.
Once the sugar syrup reaches 255°, set the mixer to low speed, and pour the sugar syrup in a slow stream into the egg white mixture. Add the vanilla and continue beating on medium speed (My Kitchenaid was set on 6) until the outside of the bowl is lukewarm to the touch and the mixture becomes too stiff for the mixer, about 10 minutes. The mixture will also stand at medium peaks if you drop some on waxed paper. Fold in the pecans and freeze-dried strawberries until just combined.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper. Let set for about 1 hour in a cool, dry place. The divinity will keep in a airtight container for a few days.