12/9/11

Baking on Friday: Mrs. Floyd's Divinity


Before I go on, take a moment to admire the Christmas tree serving dish I found at my favorite store, Goodwill. Not bad, huh?

Today was a veritable baking extravaganza at the Three Cats Ranch.  And just to show you I'm not kidding around, this is how my kitchen looked about an hour ago.  (Note the cookies still baking in the oven.)



After taking this picture, I took The Pioneer Woman's advice and sat down to have a good cry.  Then I cleaned up.  What did I do to make such a mess?  Well, I made the divinity I'm about to tell you about.  Also, I made a loaf of tea bread and some cookies.  More about those at a later date.  The jury is still out since they aren't yet completely finished.

But to get on with things, if you read about last week's divinity failure, then you'll be happy to know that today's adventure was a complete success.  I have no idea how this recipe compares to my mother's except to say that it tastes exactly the same.  Furthermore, it wasn't really difficult to do.  One needs a candy thermometer, a mixer with some muscle, and a teeny tiny amount of patience to make this delightful treat.  As I use those words, "delightful treat," I should offer up the warning that this is sweet enough to make your teeth hurt.  As a hopeless sugar fiend, I can say that to my tastebuds, it was definitely a delightful treat.  If you're not into sweets, you might not like it as much as I did.

Here's the important thing about divinity:  First, I looked into this issue about whether divinity needs to be made on a dry day, and it seems this is more than just an old wive's tale.  I did a Google search and came up with a couple of bits of information about it.  First, a Yahoo Answers user had this to say:

Humidity does play a role in the making of divinity.  On a humid day you should use one teaspoon less water (if the recipe calls for one cup).
So what constitutes a dry day?  According to the website What's Cooking America, the humidity should be below 50-60%.  Well, I'm here to tell you that here in rainy Oregon, it has been dry for the past ten days or so . . . so dry, in fact, that my nose has been bleeding.  I'm saying that's dry enough.

Now here's the second important thing about divinity and about this recipe in particular:  You'll note that the directions say to beat the mixture "constantly at high speed until the mixture holds its shape."  (The emphasis is mine.)  It's tempting to give up too soon.  Having failed at this last week, I was determined not to mess up another batch.  I kept beating for the suggested 6-8 minutes and it finally came to the consistency of salt water taffy.  My mixer has a lot of muscle, and so don't be afraid to beat it beyond the 6-8 minutes if you need to.  When you consider that you'll be dropping it by teaspoonfuls onto sheets of wax paper, it makes sense that it needs to be relatively firm like cookie dough.  Otherwise . . . oh, I just hate to think of the mess you'd have on your hands.

So with all those caveats, I can imagine this seems intimidating.  I'm here to tell you that it really is not difficult.  Just follow the instructions, and you'll have delicious candy for gift-giving or for stuffing into your own pie hole, er, divinity hole, piece after piece after piece until you'll want to lie down and take a nap.

So, without further delay, here's the recipe:

Mrs. Floyd's Divinity
slightly adapted from myrecipe.com
first appeared in Southern Living, December, 2000
Makes about 4 dozen pieces (1 3/4 pounds)

2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2  cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup  chopped pecans -- toasted

Cook first 4 ingredients in a heavy 2-quart saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves and a candy thermometer registers 248°F (about 15 minutes).  Remove syrup mixture from heat.

Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  Pour half of hot syrup in a thin stream over egg whites, beating constantly at high speed, about 5 minutes.

Cook remaining half of syrup over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer registers 272°F (about 4-5 minutes more).  Slowly pour hot syrup and vanilla extract over egg white mixture, beating constantly at high speed until mixture holds its shape (about 6-8   minutes).  Stir in 1 cup chopped pecans.

Drop mixture quickly by rounded teaspoonfuls onto wax paper.  Cool.

3 comments from clever and witty friends:

Mommarock said...

Divinity is one of our family's traditional Christmas treats.. we always trick people into eating some, and then taking a sip of soda... SO funny.. (it foams in your mouth).

aksherry said...

This is my hubby's favorite candy. I will have to give it a try.

Suzie said...

Thanks for the recipe, I love backing for Christmas!