Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Candy

My grandmother has been talking about Pecan Divinity since Halloween and today I decided that I would finally tackle the infamous candy. In case you have never had this sweet treat, Pecan Divinity is a candy that is typically made around Christmas in many Southern homes. It is so sweet that a few pieces could send you into sugar shock. It is supposedly called Divinity because it tastes "Divine".

In my family there have only been two or three select women that prepare this treat every year because of the supposed difficulty of its preparation, but this year I decided to promote myself into the group. :) I spent at least an hour researching the different techniques. There were so many rules: do not make it on a rainy day, boil the syrup to exactly 265*, whip perfect peaks, and so on. Sadly I did not even know what "peaks" were before I began my research. Ha.

All that to say, all the research and preparation paid off, and tonight I succeeded in making Pecan Divinity. Even my picky grandmother gave me the thumbs up, and believe me that says a lot. I have attached a picture and the recipe with the special hints that I gathered in my research. Enjoy.

Pecan Divinity

2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
2 egg whites, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (roasted and salted, if desired)

Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment or wax paper.
In a medium sauce pan, combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and water. Bring to a boil, stirring only until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Cook over high heat until a candy thermometer reaches 260F, 20-25 minutes. (If you do not have a thermometer, drip some syrup into a glass of water and it is ready if it hardens like candy on a candy apple.)
When the syrup reaches 260F, beat the egg whites to fairly stiff peaks in a large bowl. When they are ready, the syrup should be at about 265F. With the mixer running continuously on low speed, carefully drizzle the syrup in a steady stream into the egg whites. When all the syrup has been added, turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat for 4-5 minutes. The mixture should have thickened somewhat by this point. Add the vanilla and turn the speed down to medium-low and continue to beat until the mixture is no longer glossy/shiny, starts to kind of look like cotton candy, and begins to stick to the sides of the bowl, pulling away from the beaters. (This takes at least 20 minutes. I took a cloth full of ice and rubbed down the outside of the bowl of the mixer while it was beating. This seemed to help create the right texture.)
Quickly fold in 3/4 cup pecans. Spread divinity into the prepared pan, pressing the remaining 1/4 cup pecans into the top.
Allow it to set up for at least 2 hours, until completely cool, before slicing into small pieces. Eat up!!

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