I tried to evoke the spirit of Lorena this morning. My great-great grandmother Lorena that is, to make the most heavenly southern Christmas dessert ever created. Why did I need to do this? Well, “Mama (Lorena)” as my granny and my grandmother called her (my grandmother called her grandmother “Mama” too because her mother was the eldest child and “Mama” had a son younger than her eldest daughter’s first daughter). Anyway, she never wrote any recipes down. I grew up hearing stories about how heavenly divinity was, yet never witnessed a woman in my family make it. I ate alot of it at church functions and family gatherings in the winter, and loved it. When I made my honey rum marshmallows the other day, my husband said, “You know what would be better, divinity. Can you make that please?” So me without a recipe, and having never saw it done, set out to evoke Lorena’s spirit this morning to teach me how to make divinity. Well, Lorena didn’t answer, so I searched through some recipes and saw there seemed to be a general consensus on how to make it. I tried one recipe, and it failed, I cooked the candy too long. Lesson learned – don’t go beyond 250 degrees. The second attempt, was perfection. The only thing I wish I had done is wait to put the nuts in till a little later (I forgot to fold them in), and go alot faster as I spoon out the divinity on the cookie sheet too cool.
I know Mama Lorena would be happy with my divinity, even though I never was able to meet her. She passed just before I was born. My family says she was a beautiful sweet woman who came to her husband by way of the mail. She was a mail order bride at the turn of the century. She was small, had big brown eyes, one was glass, and a dark complexion. I guess she must have been half Cherokee, because of her looks and cooking. She never told anyone about her life before her husband. She must have felt shunned in her community, and that’s why she became a mail order bride. I have a few of her Native American recipes that I learned from my Granny I’ll also be sharing in the future.
If you try this recipe, and have never had divinity, it’s heavenly. The consistency is fudge-like and is so sweet, just one little piece will satisfy your sweet tooth.
This how to video from pastry chef Amy DeWitt is very helpful:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 egg whites
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add sugar to saucepan. Remove 2 teaspoons and add to stand mixer bowl. Add corn syrup and water to saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, until candy thermometer reaches 250 degrees.
When sugar mixture is about 200 degrees, go ahead and add egg whites to stand mixer with the two teaspoons sugar. Mix on high until stiff. When sugar mixture is ready, add slowly in a stream to egg whites with mixer on. When all of the sugar mixture is incorporated, turn to high, and mix until candy is the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. Add vanilla and mix well.
Then add chopped nuts and fold in.
Very quickly, using two spoons, spoon mixture onto parchment paper to cool. Use a twirling motion with second spoon to make the candy sort of have a point. (My candy got hard very fast, and I only had one candy with a pretty point.) However, if you spoon it out too fast, you'll have chewy cookies instead of soft-fudge like candy.