Spurred on by recent success with butter toffee, I just tried to make divinity. It looked to me like the beginner’s version of nougat, which I eventually want to make, and I remember having it once before in my life, when I was 12, and thinking it was the most delicious thing I’d ever had.
Well, what came out was indeed the most delicious thing I’ve ever had. It’s better than I remember… possibly the most perfect candy on earth.
Having said that, I screwed it up. Let me list the ways in which I deviated from the AllRecipes recipe, and y’all tell me which deviations caused the problems, okay?
The problem: it is completely cool, but too soft to be candy. It’s also too stiff to ice a cake with.
- I had a container of four egg whites left over from other baking. I tried pouring out half of them into my mixer; I ended up with slightly more than I needed.
- I didn’t have quite a half-cup of Karo. I remember Alton Brown saying that it’s only included in recipes to prevent the hot mixture from graining, so I made up the balance with more granulated sugar.
- I didn’t get it mixed up well enough when I first put it on the heat, and a little bit at the bottom got slightly brown before I realized what was going on and got it mixed well.
- After mixing the egg whites and syrup, I beat it for the prescribed five minutes, decided it was losing its gloss, and dropped it onto wax paper. I’m now reading some online comments, though, that talk about it being so thick the mixer begins to have trouble mixing it; mine was certainly not that stiff. More like marshmallow creme.
It is a clear sunny day, and very cold, so the humidity is very low.
The problem with divinity is that it’s just way too rich. I can have maybe one small piece every year or two; any more than that is overload.
Obviously I’m made of sterner stuff, tootse.
Can I have some?!
My mother made only two different kinds of candy - Divinity and Anise - for Christmas.
Both were great, and it was always a big hit. She would make huge portions, put some in smaller plastic bags and give to friends.
Haven’t had either in years - maybe I will break down and try it myself this year!
I never tried divinity (I don’t think I’ve ever tasted divinity, actually) but just stopping to say, candymaking is more like baking than it is like cooking, which is to say, it’s chemistry, not art. Until you are extremely experienced, avoid substitutions. Any of those substitutions could have caused the problem – with FOUR substitutions, it pretty much had no hope of coming out right.
Setting aside the substitutions, did you cook it to exactly 250F as directed? Because it also sounds like it wasn’t cooked enough to be as firm as it needed to be. If you cooked it to 249F it might account for the problem. Candy can be fussy like that (except butter toffee, which is the greatest, simplest candy ever invented by the hand of man). Have you recently tested your candy thermometer for accuracy? If no, put it in boiling water - does it read 212F?
Hello again: it occurred to me that Divinity is really a meringue, so I tried drying it out in the oven at a low temp with the convection on. It indeed dried out. A couple of hours in a freshly washed (therefore humid) jar softened up the crunchy outside that resulted. The texture of it is now just right.
I looked at several recipes before I started and the proportion of egg white to sugar isn’t the same in all of them, which leads me to believe that that isn’t necessarily the problem.
Also, Alton Brown prooooooomised me that the candy recipes only call for corn syrup because it stops graining while the candy cooks.
I guess I’m really hoping that the problem was in the technique… according to the above, it should have been. Yeah, I did cook it to a true 250… however I’ve found an old Betty Crocker recipe that calls for 260. A friend of mine just had much better luck with butter toffee when he cooked it to 360 instead of just 350. This leads me to believe that modern candy recipes tend to underestimate the temp you need for them to work properly… exactly like how baking recipes always underestimate the best baking temperature.
Well, there’s nothing to do but try again – if I may quote from a set of instructions on making sushi – if at first you don’t suceed at achieving perfection, eat the evidence.