Divinity Candy

Since the Christmas season is coming up fast, I would like to share recipes for divinity candy and pralines. If you are contemplating making these wonderful candies, I would suggest that you secure your pecans as soon as possible.

Miss Caroline New gave me the recipe for divinity way back in 1968, and Dianne Birdsong gave me the praline recipe several years ago. These two candies make beautiful gifts and are always nice to have around the house during the holidays.

As soon as I got my five pounds of pecans last week, I made pralines and fudge and am now thinking maybe I had better back off a little because there are many pecan pies that need to be made by Christmas. One other suggestion is to buy a candy thermometer for making divinity because it takes out the guesswork.

DIVINITY CANDY

Before you start, it will be most helpful to strategically place some of the items that you will need. In a space away from the cooking area, lay out a long piece of waxed paper. Beside this, put your teaspoons and a small bowl of water. If you have a candy thermometer, this will be most helpful, but not absolutely necessary. Also, Miss Caroline told me to make certain that every utensil to be used was free from any grease.

2 ½ cups sugar

½ cup white Karo syrup

½ cup water

2 egg whites

1 cup chopped pecans

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Place egg whites in a large heat-resistant mixer bowl (mine came with my stand mixer, and it will withstand the heat), add a pinch of salt and beat until frothy and will hold peaks. I do this on my mixer while the sugar syrup is cooking. In a 2-quart saucepan, place sugar, syrup, and water. Stir to mix with a wooden spoon, and on HIGH, heat to boiling. Once the mixture has started to boil, do not stir. Cook until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage or 250 degrees on a candy thermometer. To check without a thermometer, let a little of the syrup drop from the end of the spoon into a small bowl of cool water. If you can pick it up with your fingers and roll without it falling apart, then it is ready. This is a very soft ball. Next, with the mixing bowl in the stand and running on high, pour half the mixture over the egg whites and return the other half to the stove to continue cooking. Also, at this stage, I turn the heat to medium high. I use a plastic spatula and keep picking up the egg whites while the bowl is turning on the mixer stand. I keep the mixer on and turning all the time while the second half of the syrup cooks. When the second half of the syrup reaches the hard crack stage or 350 degrees on the thermometer, it is ready to pour over the egg white mixture. To check for the hard crack stage without a thermometer, dip the end of the spoon into the mixture and hold the spoon downward in front of you and look to see if the syrup on the end drops from the spoon and “spins” a thread. Just watch, the syrup will drop and actually just fly away from the end of the spoon when it is ready. Also, the syrup in the pan will just begin to look a little amber in color. While beating constantly, pour the second half of the syrup over the egg white mixture. At this time, place the empty boiler in the sink and fill with hot water - it will make cleanup much easier. Using a spatula, keep pushing air underneath the candy mixture while the bowl is spinning. When the mixer begins to sound as though mixing is becoming difficult, remove the mixer and use a wooden spoon to beat - remembering to mix from the bottom in order to incorporate as much air as possible. When you see and feel that the mixture is “setting” and beginning to lose its gloss, add vanilla extract and nuts. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the waxed paper. Use the bowl of water for lightly wetting your finger so that the candy does not stick to your finger. At this time, a couple of helpers can be quite handy. I do not use my Kitchenaid mixer for this because you cannot get under the mixture, and I drag out my old Sunbeam mixer for this recipe.

PRALINES

2 cups packed light brown sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup (or more) coarsely chopped pecans

1 tablespoon butter

Place brown sugar and whipping cream in a large, oven-proof bowl - I use an 8-cup Pyrex batter bowl with a handle because the container gets really hot. Stir mixture, and cook for 12 minutes on high in the microwave. Remove, add pecans and butter; stir only until the butter melts. Spoon onto wax paper. This sets up fast.

Enjoy, Mary Ann McCrary

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