Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Standing on a footstool beside my grandmother Cille in the kitchen when I was too small to see above the stovetop without it, I received the secrets of this notorious home made candy from the South. It is a candy that requires patience and watchful eye for time. Cille saw that my mind was growing, she taught me my left from right at about that same time, and how to tie my shoe, and she could see that like other children my age I was anxious and impatient and my life adventures were squeezing through the seconds and minutes without understanding how to get a grasp of them. I wasn’t ready to read a clock and a few minutes could seem like an hour, just like an hour could pass in the blink of an eye. I was lacking the constant meter that comes with rigor and habits, so she taught me, in her patient careful way, the stepping stones to Divinity.

Bright sunny days are divinity days. Crisp winter days were best where we grew up, because then there is a draw between playing outside or staying in to make divinity. Honestly, when Cille was visiting, I’d give up anything for some one on one time with her.

First you have to get the sugar boiling. Then when it is a syrup and it begins to bubble, the syrup moves through easily recognizable stages from a foamy rapid boil, through several swells and changes in appearance that rise and fall like predictable tides, and then finally reaches the point when it settles down and the bubbles grow and pop in a certain thoughtful kind of way. That’s the time to begin the testing. Every few minutes we’d drop a little bit of the hot syrup into ice water. After an agonizing wait the sugar finally acted right and became a hard ball. These landmarks are easy enough for a child to grasp.

As the beaters turned in the stiffly beaten egg whites, she poured the sugar syrup so excruciatingly slow that I thought I might just die from the suspense. She insisted that adding it in a thin almost hair-like stream was the secret to a successful divinity. When enough had been added to give it some body, the flavorings came, vanilla, or some brandy, and the color. When Cille and I made divinity together, she always let me choose the color. Then the rest of the syrup went in, ever so slowly but fast enough that it never hardened in the pan.

The end comes quickly when making Divinity. One minute you’re shuffling from one foot to the other wondering when it will ever end, and the next minute the sheen fades and you find yourself spooning it down on the waxed paper in rich voluptuous dollops. Cille often pushed a pecan into the center of each one just after spooning it down. The candy grips the buttery nut like the head of a sleepy child in the pillow at nap time.

My mother reminisces about Cille's teaching days, and says she used to make pink divinity for her class every year on Valentines day. This year I decided to make pink divinity.



Blogger *fanny* said...

Hi Lucy, what a lovely picture and a sweet story.
I'm glad you left a comment on foodbeam so that i discovered your beautiful blog.


10:53 AM, July 24, 2006  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Thank you, Fanny, I am very happy to see you here.

3:52 PM, July 24, 2006  
Blogger sharon parquette nimtz said...

Lucy, I found your blog yesterday, spent a couple of hours there and came back to it this morning. Absolutely Lovely and very very food professional as well as homey.

My question -- anything more about divinity? My grandmother made it and i would like to make it for my husband for Valentine's Day, but mine always comes out limp or sugary.

Thank you so much for these enjoyable and informative pages.

6:00 PM, February 10, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Sharon, Thanks for you kind comments about the blog! If you can get a good 2 hours from it, I count it as as success!

About limp divinity - it's the weather - it can only be made on a cloudless day. If you try and make it on a humid day it will turn out soft and won't harden.

The grains can be avoided with recipes that contain corn syrup, golden syrup, or glucose syrup in countries other than the US or England. Choose a recipe that incorporates one of those syrups local to you. The other tip to avoiding grains is to avoid stirring during the sugar's boiling process.

6:28 PM, February 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucy, Are you making pink divinity today? I am. My Deep South roots start showing occasionally, and Valentine's Day is one of the times.

They'll be topped with toasted pecans from the old Homeplace in Mississippi, and whether I push each fat nutmeat into the cushion of billowy pink, or lounge one side-saddle against a Dairy Queen curl, I'll think each time of a sleepy baby, like the Dear One in the crib right behind me, snuggled into her pillow.

Thank you for the lasting image.

rachel d

9:23 PM, February 13, 2008  
Blogger Celia said...

I just did a food blog search for divinity and came across your site. I LOVED reading your story. So sweet. And the pink is just wonderful. :)

2:10 AM, November 02, 2011  
Blogger Unknown said...

The story helps with the things to watch for in the timing thank you for that. My Grandmother's divinity had a flavor I cannot, now, put my finger on and I have never tasted its like since then. I have her written recipe but it gives no hint. Any thoughts ? Thank you
Cinda B.

10:08 AM, December 27, 2014  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Hi Cinda,

I know what you mean about that mysterious flavor. Maybe it's the nuts? You may consider a capful of what her favorite spirit was and see if that does the trick as well. Hope you find it.


10:41 AM, December 28, 2014  

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