Divinity is a nougat-like sugar candy that is aerated with egg-white foam. It’s a cross between a meringue and a candy, and can be soft and chewy, or hard and crunchy depending on temperature and ratio of sugar syrup to egg whites.
When done right, it’s light, fluffy, and well – simply divine. You can add nuts, dried fruits, or the classic pecan, however we’re purists and like our divinity to remain as pure as driven snow.
Here’s how you do it:
Begin by beating the egg whites in a bowl, or a large standing mixer until peaks form.
Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Cook until the mixture reaches *260°F, or hard ball stage.
At this stage, a candy thermometer is of the utmost importance. Allowing the mixture to get too hot will disrupt the light and fluffy texture of the finished product. The Super-Fast® Thermapen® is the ideal tool for the job. It reads temperatures in 3 seconds and is accurate to ±.7°F. With a Thermapen, it’s so much easier to avoid burning your sugar.
Another option for monitoring the temperature of your cooking sugar is the ChefAlarm, Cook’s Illustrated’s “winner” for clip-on digital thermometers for candy-making and deep frying. With an included pot clip, it’s easy to attach your probe to the side of the pot. Set the high alarm to sound when you’ve reached 260°F and you’re all set. ChefAlarm’s temperatures are accurate to within 1° so there’s little chance of overcooking the sugar.
Once to temp, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites, beating constantly. Continue beating to let the mixture aerate (roughly 5-8 minutes). Mix in vanilla and fruits or nuts (if you must) until fully incorporated.
Drop a teaspoonful onto a cookie sheet coated with non-stick spray, or better yet, a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Let cool. For those of you who are more particular about presentation, the mixture can also be poured into a 9-inch square pan, cooled and cut into uniform squares.
Consider this: divinity hates humidity. It’s best to make divinity on a cool, dry day. If it’s humid (over 50%) or rainy, the candy might end up with a more gooey, or grainy texture. If you’re making candy on a hot or humid day, cook the candy a few degrees higher than the recipe specifies to overcome these undesired side effects.
*260°F is only applicable at sea level. If you’re at a higher elevation, you need to reduce temperature by 1°F for every 500 ft above sea level. For more candy temperatures, see our candy temperature chart, here.
3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup warm water
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
Harold McGee – On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen