For today’s edition of Make-It-Yourself Monday, I thought I’d share a special recipe and the memories that go with it. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas!
Two of the fondest memories I have of my grandmother involve candymaking. The first is funny and involves two very small girls, four not-so-clean hands and an entire batch of streaked taffy. Oh, and one very frustrated Grandmother saying, “I TOLD you to wash your hands!” The second is one of the sweetest memories I have of anyone. EVER.
It was Christmas 1999, and I was living alone in a little flat in a big city in Africa. Mission friends quickly become family so I had fun sharing the holidays with them, but I was not at home, you know? A friend of mine who lives overseas recently posted on Facebook that she had never before realized how sad some Christmas music is…I smiled, remembering the tears that streamed down my face the day I happened to hear “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” on Nairobi radio. I bought the only little tree I could find and filled it with ornaments from the local market, and I sent Christmas cards home to people I knew and loved. I wrote a note on my Grandmother’s card that I missed her so much and wished I could have some of her divinity.
I packed the card with a little silver bracelet in a banana fiber box and sent it on its way. Then I pretty much forgot about it until….
Sometime in June or July when a Christmas tin filled with divinity arrived with a note from Grandmother and a whole lot of love. I have no idea what the shelf life of divinity is (she had shipped it months earlier), but I ate it anyway.
And after she died, I found that little banana fiber box among her things.
Naturally, when Christmas comes around, I miss my Grandmother, and over the years, I tried to make divinity for my dad because I know he misses her (and her candy), too. But I always failed miserably. Y’all, it’s tricky stuff. Unless you’re like my grandmother, who could make divinity with it raining outside, you pretty much have to have perfect conditions for any amount of success. And, I never seemed to have them, until…
I found her candy thermometer.
And, ever since I started using it, my divinity has turned out well.
I’m not joking.
You might not have her thermometer, but I thought you might like the recipe. Here it is:
Adapted from the New Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 chopped pecans
Pecan Halves and/or Maraschino Cherries
In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, water and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, without stirring, until the thermometer reaches 260 (hard ball stage).
Remove saucepan from heat. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually pour hot mixture in a thin stream over the egg whites, beating on high speed for about three minutes. Add vanilla. Continue beating on high just until the mixture begins to lose its gloss. When beaters are lifted, the mixture should fall in a ribbon that mounds on itself.
Drop a spoonful of mixture onto waxed paper. If it stays mounded, candy is ready. If not, beat the mixture for 30 seconds to one minute more. If it is too thick to spoon, beat in a few drops of hot water until you have a softer consistency. Stir in nuts. QUICKLY drop remaining mixture onto wax paper. Place one pecan halve or cherry on top of each mound of candy.
Store in an airtight container.