Divinity

I haven’t seen divinity around much these days and there’s only one time in my life that I remember eating this candy, and I was very young.  My neighbor, a kind elderly woman, made great divinity, or so my mom says!  I don’t even remember what it tasted like.  My grandmother, on my mom’s side, also made divinity years ago when my mom was a child.  My mom says that when her mom was making divinity the kids were not allowed anywhere near the kitchen!

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A few months ago, my mom challenged me to make divinity.  I’ve been trying to get around to taking up the challenge for a couple of months now and just yesterday I finally decided to do it.  I’ve researched as much as I can about how to make this candy and found so many tips, but generally the recipe is the same.

So, seeing as how it was a low humidity day (apparently you’re not supposed to even attempt this candy when the humidity is high), I gathered all my ingredients together and I began the task.  In a pan, I combined sugar, water, corn syrup and salt and heated it to 260F.  Meanwhile, I whipped the egg whites until stiff peaks formed.

When the sugar mixture reached 260F, I took it off the stove and began to pour the syrup slowly into the bowl of my stand mixer which was running on high speed.  This is when the trouble started.  Even though I was pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl, the whisk picked up the syrup and the syrup started spiraling in spiderweb-type strings all the way up the whisk and to where the whisk attaches to the mixer!  It was so stringy I couldn’t really stop it!  I turned off the mixer and unattached the string from the whisk.

The syrup was hardening pretty quickly on the whisk, which looked like it was covered in spiderwebs.  I turned the mixer on again and tried pouring an even smaller stream of syrup into the egg whites, which seemed to work well.  Then the mixer, while at full speed, started slowing down a bit and the motor took on a different sound that I didn’t much like.  This is a one-year-old KitchenAid, by the way.  The mixture in the bowl was getting very thick and I wasn’t even done pouring the syrup out yet.

Once I got all the syrup out, the mixture was very thick and very glossy.  Side note – I have just read before posting this that I should have kept beating the mixture until it lost its gloss, but I was scared to let the mixer run any longer!  I didn’t beat it for the recommended amount of time before I just had to turn it off.

The mixture was stiff, like I said, and it had no problem holding its shape.  So I decided to try to spoon it out onto wax paper.  Well, the mixture was so sticky and so stretchy that spooning it out was impossible.  I wondered what would happen if I tried to get the mixture into a pastry bag, used a large rounded tip and piped it out onto the wax paper.  So I tried it.

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In the photo above, you can see three dollops of the mixture in the top left, which was from trying to use a spoon.  The rest of them have been piped out.  The piping formed a nice shape, so this is how I did the rest of them.  I used the rest of a jar of maraschino cherries to top some of them.

I thought I might have succeeded after all in making divinity, but it actually wasn’t done yet… I let the pieces cool and firm up on the wax paper for a few hours.  I tried to take one off the paper, but it stuck.  Trying to get it off turned the piece into a sticky glob.  I ate it anyway, and it did taste very nice, like a sweet marshmallow.  The texture was sort of marshmallowy as well, but thicker.  And it was very sticky.

So, I failed after all!  I put the pieces, still on wax paper, into the freezer and after doing this, the pieces came off rather easily.

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I think the main thing I may have done wrong is not to have beaten it for long enough in the mixer.  But that confuses me, because it was already so thick and stiff.  If anyone reading this has made divinity successfully, please do share your tips and suggestions!

This is the recipe I used…

Divinity
Adapted from Recipezaar
Makes 40 pieces

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans or cherries (optional)

Method
In a 2 quart saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Cook to hardball stage, (260 degrees), stirring only until sugar dissolves.

Meanwhile, as temperature of syrup reaches 250 degrees, beat egg white till stiff peaks form.

When syrup reaches 260 degrees, very gradually add the syrup to egg whites, beating at high speed with electric mixer. Add vanilla and beat until candy holds its shape, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the chopped nuts or cherries, if desired.

Quickly drop candy from a teaspoon onto waxed paper, swirling the top of each piece. Let cool.

I have since found a recipe specifically from a book of KitchenAid stand mixer instructions and recipes which I may try next time.

I have also found a good blog post with some great tips, which I will definitely be taking into consideration next time.

20 thoughts on “Divinity

  1. Kate at Serendipity

    We used to have divinity when I was growing up in Atlanta. It was very nice, but I remember hearing that it was difficult to make. The divinity we ate had tinytiny pieces of pecan in it–almost like ground pecans.

    I’d love to be able to make it, though, because it was wonderful and you don’t ever see it anymore.

    Brava for this effort!

    Reply
  2. MissMeshow

    Looks beautiful! I’ve got fond memories of “helping ” mom to make this as a child. It was late at (probably Christmas Eve) and she was using an older stand mixer. It kind of unlocked while on full speed, flipped up and sprayed me, Mom and the entire kitchen with sticky sugary mess. she doesn’t make it anymore :)

    Reply
  3. shirley@kokken69

    This looks like a marshmallow recipe. Normally, when I make marshamallow, I have to leave it to set for 24 hours before dusting it with a mixture of icing sugar and corn flour.

    Reply
  4. ButterYum

    So sorry about your failure… divinity is tricky. yes, anytime you work with eggwhites and sugar, you need low humidity conditions (because sugar is hydroscopic and will readily absorb moisture from the air). Does you mom have an older stand mixer you can use? I find the older KitchenAids work much better at tough mixing jobs. The new ones are designed to automatically shut-off if the motor becomes strained (which seems to happen much easier in the newer models).

    Great blog! Happy Baking!! :)
    ButterYum

    Reply
  5. Sara

    That’s pretty much why you were challenged to try divinity. It’s the most persnickity candy I’ve ever tried to work with, and I’ve done well with the typical ‘tricky’ candies (fudge, caramel, peanut brittle). I was told that’s why it has it’s name, in order to get it to turn out, a prayer and divine intervention is required. (only half joking) I’d say over all you did excellently, and now you know to go ahead and let it beat until no longer glossy, which will help with the sticky, but your solution worked well. Your candies look gorgeous, and as long as you don’t tell your mother how you got them off the wax paper, she’ll be sure you must have had help from above :)

    Reply
  6. lunettes

    I can’t tell you the tears that have gone into my mother’s divinity attempts – but when it’s good it’s amazing. My mother’s trick is to wait until just after the divinity loses its sheen (luster) as suggested above by Sara. It just depends on the humidity, though!

    Once my sister made it with Strawberry Jello and proceeded to kill our mixer. Go sis!

    Reply
  7. StoneMaven

    Grandma and my sisters-in-law make tons of divinity every Christmas. They use coarsely chopped pecans in it as well. They drop it by spoonfuls onto buttered cookie sheets or wax paper like cookie dough. Silpat mats would work too. I’ve also seen it poured into a buttered pan like fudge and cut into squares. They also make a strawberry version I think by using jell-o. I’ll ask Grandma when we see her on Wednesday.
    Don’t give up. It’s a wonderful counterpart to fudge during the holidays. You’ve inspired me to give it a try myself.

    Reply
  8. anna

    I’ve never had Divinity but I have been meaning to try it for a while – anything with meringue and I’m all over it! I think I’ll try them for this year’s assortment of holiday goodies.

    Reply
  9. Suzy

    You definitely have to beat at least by hand with a wooden spoon until its no longer glossy or you won’t get the right texture. Good try though! Give it another go and you will get it.

    Reply
  10. Jamieanne Post author

    Thanks everyone for your stories and suggestions; I’ve enjoyed all the comments on this post. Next time I make divinity, I will make it perfectly (I hope! :D )

    Reply
  11. shaz

    G’day Jamieanne,

    Just surfed on over from the Cupcake Hero Flickr group and wanted to say the pics of this candy are amazing! I’d never heard of divinity before either. Great post and I think it looks great even if it wasn’t perfect.

    Cheers

    Reply
  12. Angela

    Hi Jamieanne! First, thank you for linking back to my Divinity recipe on my blog. Much appreciated.

    Second, that KitchenAid Divinity recipe is the ONLY one that has ever worked for me. DH’s crews loved it so much they have repeatedly requested it year after year as a Christmas treat for them at work.

    Also, let me tell you, I practically stand on my head on a stool while pouring the mixture into the mixer bowl so I am able to slowly pour it in. It’s a trick, lemme tell ya…LOL! But, every little trick in making Divinity is crucial.

    Best of luck to you with your Divinity!

    Reply
    1. Jamieanne Post author

      No worries, Angela! I hope the KitchenAid recipe will still work for a different stand mixer. Since moving back to Australia at the beginning of this month I had to leave my KitchenAid behind; I now have a Breville stand mixer, which is pretty good as well, but it’s not a KitchenAid! Anyway, I will attempt divinity again sometime with the recipe you posted and I hope it’ll work for me too! :)

      Reply
  13. Marla

    I always made good divinity while living in the high desert of Wyoming. Cook to 265 or until it made hard strings in a glass of water and poured it slowly into the stiff egg whites using a hand mixer and glass bowl. The last little bit was always stirred by hand, more like pulling it up and letting it cool before grabbing another spoonful and pulling it up, as soon as it just starts to lose its gloss, I used two spoons to spoon it out onto wax paper. However, it rains and snows a lot in Northern Idaho at Christmas time. This was my introduction to failures. Good tasting failures, but failures all the same. I rolled them in pecans and dipped them in carmel and rolled them in more pecans. Similar to a very messy pecan role. Keep practicing and taking advise as you choose. You too will make divinity.

    Reply
  14. Leslie Harrinton

    Is this the Kitchen Aid divinity recipe you mention? Do I use the wire whisk? How do I know what the humidity is? What is the proper humidity? Is is guaged by a number? or just by High, Low?

    Reply
  15. Craig Pounds

    I follow a recipe from the late 1930′s (from southwestern U.S.A. food columnist ‘Aunt Susan’). Susan recommends cooking the syrup to 230 degrees and pouring one-third of it onto the stiffly-beaten whites, as mixer continues to beat at highest speed. Repeat two more times for the other other two-thirds of the syrup. This relieves the pressure on your mixer. As usual, continue beating until mixture loses its shiny gloss. Sometimes, you’ll have to finish the process manually and then add the vanilla and cup of pecans. More often than not, however, the gloss disappears while the mixer is still running! This is sufficiently dry that you should be able to cut the divinity into manageable squares by the next morning.

    Reply
  16. Brenda N

    I make 5 to 6 batches of divinity during Christmas every year. First don’t attempt it if there is a cloud in the sky! lol Plus, I never use a whisk attachment. My el cheapo stand mixer doesn’t have one. Only the old fashioned double beaters. Then I use the bowl lever to offset the way the bowl sits under the beaters..need more room up front , where the pouring business goes on. I use a candy thermometer but always double check by spooning a bit of the hot syrup into cold water…it should make a hard ball. If you go to the hard crack stage the candy will set too fast. You can save it when it starts to harden by drops of hot water beat into it. good luck…try adding some chopped pecans to the mix its great!

    Reply
  17. Debra

    Your recipe looks fine. I made 4 batches and they all came out perfectly tonight. Here is what I did that I’m sure made the difference.

    Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. I only heated the sugar syrup to 250 or 255 each time. Hard ball is anywhere between 250 and 260.

    Pour the syrup down the side of the bowl, using no more than a pencil sized stream.

    Use the whisk attachment on your Kitchen Aid.

    Make sure to beat the mixture until the candy loses it’s gloss.

    If you do all this, it should not be stiff. Mine was not stiff in the Kitchen Aid, even as it lost its gloss.

    Mine set up like a dream. I made lemon, chocolate, black walnut, and peppermint. :) Best wishes my cooking friend. :)

    Reply

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