Heavenly divinity-at Christmas time! Divinity was one of my favorite sweet treats of the fifties and it only appeared in our house during the Christmas season. Making divinity with Mother was part of the annual Christmas cookie tradition we shared, even though it was a candy, and not a cookie.
On a day during the holidays when Mother decided to bake, we usually began with Mexican wedding cookies drenched in powdered sugar. Then the more difficult and complicated sugar cookies shaped like Santa, a candy cane or a Christmas tree. The butter rich oatmeal coconut cookies with either walnuts or pecans were also on the list, and warm from the oven, Mother allowed us to taste the cookies that fell apart when she lifted them off the cookie sheet. The richness of the butter took over the presence of the other ingredients, and it often required a batch or two before she perfected the mixture, usually adding more flour as she experimented.
After the cookies were finished it was finally time to make the divinity. Mother started with sugar and corn syrup-Did I mention that divinity was very sweet? She combined the sugar and corn syrup on the stove stirring and cooking, while either Sissy or I whipped the egg whites. The one holding the hand mixer used two hands to control the device, while the other one of us held the bowl in place to keep the whirling speed of the attachments from forcing the bowl into its own uncontrollable spin. Making divinity was definitely a team effort.
We whipped the egg whites until they became very stiff peaks, holding the bowl upside down to test the readiness of the egg whites. If they were stiff enough, nothing slid out of the bowl. If not, well you can imagine-with liquid dripping down the sides of the bowl, we returned to the task of whipping the eggs!
When the sugar mixture was ready, Mother gradually added the stiff egg whites to the combination that she would turn into a divine display of artistry. Sometimes she added pecans to the ingredients and at other times, she added food coloring to make the divinity either red or green. The red was more often a pink rather than a red, but fulfilled the requirements of the traditional holiday colors of red and green. When we were very adventurous, we had a mixture of red, green and white divinity, or just red and white. We never knew what the end product might look like.
Once all the ingredients were combined, Mother dropped a spoonful of the mixture onto sheets of waxed paper creating bite-sized mounds with pointed and swirled tops, which were similar to her meringue on cream pies. It did not take long for the candy to harden and voila, our divine creations were fully realized. We placed the small mounds of the delicious treats in our mouths, and finally, in decorated tin containers to keep them fresh, or to give to neighbors and friends as gifts.
Simple, sweet and delectable. Heavenly and divine. A perfect treat for the season!
It is almost Christmas and I think it is a good day to bake. I will turn on the Christmas lights, fire up the oven, plug in my iPod to my holiday music and check out the refrigerator to see if I have any eggs and corn syrup. Yes, it is a perfect day to bake. If only Sissy were here to help me hold the bowl…