One holiday tradition I grew up with is Pecan Divinity. I can remember standing on a kitchen chair at the counter, two teaspoons in hand, waiting for the moment my mom said “go” and I’d start dropping those little puffs of sugar onto the wax paper in front of me. It was something we did every year from as far back as I can remember… and we’d often package up the treats to swap with family and friends.
Divinity is nothing but sugar and egg whites… it is hard to imagine that something so simple can be that delicious but there are a few tricks to getting it just right. If you notice in the photo, the ones on top are smooth and pretty- the ones on the bottom are more craggy. That is because I let the mixture cool too much before dropping the candy. You have to work quickly to get the pretty, silky looking texture. Here are my secrets to making it look and taste just right:
- Cook divinity on a day with no rain and no humidity. Let dry completely before storing. At least one hour.
- Make sure you have an accurate candy thermometer. It is important to get it to exactly 260 degrees (hard ball stage) before you mix the sugar into the egg whites.
- Work quickly. The candy looks best (somewhat shiny, not craggy) if you drop them while still hot. Once the candy cools off, it doesn’t hold the shape as well and looks rough, not smooth on the exterior. It still tastes good, just doesn’t look as pretty.
SOUTHERN PECAN DIVINITY RECIPE
*You will need a candy thermometer for this recipe and wax or parchment paper.
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white Karo or light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
Prepare two baking sheets with wax or parchment paper.
Toast pecans on a baking sheet in the oven just for a few minutes. Allow to cool completely. Set aside.
Add sugar, salt, syrup and water to a large heavy 2 quart saucepan. Stir. Attach candy thermometer to the side of the pan but don’t let it touch the bottom. Over medium high heat, cook the sugar mixture to the hard ball stage or 260 degrees. Don’t stir it but you can swirl the pan around until the sugar dissolves, then just leave it alone. Watch the sugar carefully. It will take about 15 minutes to get to 260 degrees. While you are waiting, use a mixer to beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, beating constantly on high speed, about 4-5 minutes.
When the mixture reaches 260 degrees, remove it from the heat. With the mixer on the lowest setting, very slowly stream the hot sugar mixture into the egg whites. Add vanilla. Then turn up the speed to high and beat constantly until the mixture holds its shape, about 5-6 minutes. Quickly fold in the pecans. Work rapidly and drop the candy by teaspoon onto the prepared baking sheet.
Let cool and dry at least one hour before storing the candy in an airtight container.