Candy of a Divine Nature
By Beth Pugh
“Do you have the recipe for her divinity candy?”
Joe smiled before he asked the question, a smile filled with anticipation. His face resembled that of a young child just before opening a neatly wrapped Christmas present. His eyes widened as he waited for my reply.
Divinity is a southern delicacy. Take one bite and you’ll never forget it. The texture is so light and airy chewing is nearly unnecessary. It simply melts in your mouth. The flavor is rich and sinfully sweet. One piece will satisfy the biggest sweet tooth. It is the epitome of what candy should be.
This candy, in all honesty, is elusive to most. Few people will even attempt to make it because of the likelihood of having a failed batch. My mother, though, somehow had the magic touch. Despite her cooking skills, she always got it right. I can’t say the same for her dinners, but when it came to candy, she knew her way around the kitchen. She only made it a couple of times, but that was enough for me and Joe to fall in love.
“No, Bub. I’ve looked for it and can’t find it.” His smile disappeared and sadness replaced his anticipation. He was not alone in his disappointment.
In the weeks, months and years that followed my mother’s death, I tried to keep her memory alive any way I could. I surrounded myself with old photographs. I visited her grave religiously. I looked for anything I had left of hers to hold on to. I had looked for her divinity recipe numerous times, but to no avail. No matter how many times I lifted and closed the lid of her recipe box, the card I desperately sought never appeared. For Joe’s sake, though, I looked through the old tin box one more time; praying I had overlooked it.
I hadn’t. I sat beside Joe on the couch, deflated.
Suddenly a light bulb came on above my head. I had searched the recipe box, but not her cookbook. Just days prior to Joe’s visit, I had reorganized all my books, including my cookbooks. While knee deep in dusty magazines and textbooks, I stumbled upon an old cookbook that had belonged to Mom. Hope stirred inside my heart as I leapt from my seat, making a mad dash for the bookshelf.
It didn’t take me long to locate it. The cookbook I held in my hands was older than I was. It was printed in the era when cookbooks had illustrations and detailed instructions. It was hard backed, too, not held together by plastic rings the way most are now. From cover to cover, it was bursting with dishes – entrées, sides, desserts, glazes. If you could think of it, there was a recipe for it.
As quickly as my fingers could, I flipped through the yellowed pages searching for Desserts. I scanned the text hurriedly, searching for the title of the elusive treat. It wasn’t there. I turned to the table of contents and found the page the desserts started on. Turns out, there was a whole section devoted to candy. I turned to the number it listed and looked. Nothing. I flipped the page back as I realized I had started on the second page of the section instead of the first. To my amazement, there it was. I stared at the words, hardly believing they were real. Right before my eyes was the recipe. The stain beside the title left no doubt. This was Mom’s recipe!
We wasted no time. After all, I had waited years to make this candy. I grabbed my car keys, Joe and my husband Ryan. Together we almost ran to the car. I could barely contain my excitement as we walked into the grocery store to gather the ingredients we needed. We rushed the cart up one aisle and down the next until everything was gathered. I paid the cashier for my items smiling like a lottery winner.
Once home, we quickly discovered why few cooks attempt divinity. Its difficulty level is unrivaled. It didn’t help that we were inexperienced in the ways of making candy. It took all three of us in the kitchen, adding ingredients, checking temperatures and stirring like mad men to finish it. It was the first time I’d ever seen Joe cook, which in and of itself was a sight to see. It’s not too often a six-foot four, lanky twenty year old stands over a stove to stare at a candy thermometer. The sight warmed my heart. I know it would have Mom’s, too.
The candy turned out perfectly, just the way Joe and I remembered. He ate so much I thought he’d be sick! The adventure made the perfect memory to wrap in Mom’s love and tuck away in my heart for a rainy day. I’ve always loved divinity and that night I realized why. This tasty treat will forever stand as a testament of Mom, not only because of her superior candy making skills (even though it’s the hardest candy I’ve ever made), but because of her imprint on our family. That, more than its taste, makes it divine.
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 egg whites at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Avoid making Divinity on a humid day; candy will not harden. In 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, heat sugar, syrup, and water to boiling, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Set candy thermometer in place and continue cooking, without stirring, until temperature reaches 248 F.
2. Meanwhile, in medium bowl with mixer at high speed, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Beating at medium speed, slowly pour half of syrup into whites. Continue beating while heating other half of syrup to 272 F.
3. While turning bowl and continuing beating, slowly pour remaining hot syrup into mixture (mixture will be stiff). (Don’t scrape saucepan; mixture on side may be sugary.) Add vanilla; beat until mixture holds stiff, glossy peaks. Working quickly, drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper. Cool completely before storing.
The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook
About this writer
- Beth Pugh is a wife, mother and daughter striving to live a life of contentment, like baby bear soup. She hopes her stories help others to do the same.
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