Morbid Meals – Divinity

MM05For the Hierophant (or Pope) tarot card, I wanted to share one of my favorite recipes for a divine treat.

EXAMINATION

Divinity is a pecan nougat candy that is extremely popular in the Southern United States. Everyone’s mama makes this, usually from traditions passed on rather than written recipes. Don’t be overwhelmed by candy making, though. Divinity is a great, simple recipe to start with.

ANALYSIS

Yield: about 18 pieces

Ingredients

2 large egg whites
2 cups granulated sugar (400 g)
1/2 cup light corn syrup (160 g)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Pecan halves, for optional garnish

Apparatus

  • Baking sheet pan
  • Waxed or parchment paper
  • Stand mixer with whisk attachment
  • Medium Saucepan
  • Candy thermometer
  • Rubber spatula

Procedure

  1. Line a sheet pan with waxed or parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Using a stand mixer at high speed, beat the egg whites until it becomes stiff. Let the mixer keep running while you prepare the syrup.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  4. Clip the thermometer to the saucepan so that it measures the syrup but does not touch the bottom of the pan.
  5. Raise heat to high and bring the syrup to a rolling boil. When the temperature reaches 250°F (“hard ball stage”), remove it from heat.
  6. Immediately pour hot syrup in a thin stream into the egg whites, with the mixer still running at high speed.
  7. Add vanilla extract and continue to beat the mixture until it loses the glossy shine. This can take between 7 to 12 minutes, depending on the relative humidity. Have patience. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl occasionally.
  8. Shut off the mixer. Add the chopped pecans and fold them in with a rubber spatula.
  9. Using two spoons, scoop out fluffy blobs of candy and drop onto the paper-lined sheet pan.
  10. If desired, press a pecan half into the top of each blob of divinity.
  11. Allow candies to cool and firm up.

DISSECTION

Candy making takes a lot of patience, especially when waiting for the syrup to hit the right temperature. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can do a cold water test to check when the syrup has hit hard ball stage.

POST-MORTEM

I am truly sorry for anyone who must avoid sugar. I tried three different recipes in an attempt to make a sugar-free or low-Glycemic Index version of this. Every attempt was a huge failure. The only one that wasn’t a complete loss was one that made a kind of marshmallow. As interesting as that was, nougat is a far cry from that.

I did hear that a sugar-substitute called Isomalt should work. However, Isomalt is outrageously expensive — about $12/lb). For those willing to try it, you should be able to equally replace the sugar and corn syrup with Isomalt by weight (approx 560 grams).

Instead, this recipe uses the least amount of sugar and corn syrup I could get away with. (Some recipes use up to twice as much.) It still ends up making a fluffy and melt-in-your-mouth heavenly treat.

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