Friday, December 4, 2009

Those Divine Violets - Violet Nut Divinity

Little puffs of sweetness bursting with walnutty goodness, no wonder it is reputed to be the food of angels. Divinity is, although be it extremely sweet, delicious and can be made in a variety of flavors, depending on what extracts are available in your pantry.

While I was growing up, it was my grandmother who always made the Christmas Divinity. With good reason. My grandmother lives east of the Cascade Mountain range (The Dalles) and it is much dryer on the east side of the mountains. Divinity is EXTREMELY sensitive to humidity, so in a wetter environment, as in the west side of the Cascades in the Willamette Valley, it is much harder to avoid the inevitable mounds of hard frosting that usually occur when atmospheric moisture is high.

BUT, I am going attempt it anyway because the east wind has been blowing the last couple of days and everything seems to be dried out a little... So take a deep breath and lets take the Divinity plunge. Besides, this gives me a chance to utilize my precious bottle of Violet Extract. For I am making Violet Nut Divinity for a family friend, who adores Violets.

Violet Nut Divinity

3 cups Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Corn Syrup
1/2 Cup Water
2 Egg Whites
1/8 tsp Kosher Salt
a pinch of Cream of Tarter
1 tsp Violette extract (or Vanilla extract)
3/4 cup Walnuts, chopped

Combine Sugar, Corn Syrup and Water in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat.
Stir the brew until it begins to boil, then remove the spoon and brush any crystals from the side of the pan with a brush dipped in hot water.

Place the candy thermometer, not touching the bottom of the pan, and cook the syrup to soft ball stage, without stirring.

In the meantime, place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer with salt and begin beating with a whisk attachment.
Once they become foamy, sprinkle with a pinch of cream of tarter and continue whisking on medium speed until stiff glossy peaks form.

Once the syrup comes to 237 degrees, pour 1/2 of the syrup into the beaten egg whites, with the mixer running at medium speed (be sure to pour between the rotating beater and the edge of the bowl or you may end up with sugar shards in your candy from "quick cooling")

Place the remaining sugar syrup back on the stove and continue to cook it to the hard ball stage, while leave the mixer running.

Once it reaches 260 degrees, begin pouring the syrup into the still mixing egg whites.

Then add any flavorings to the mixture.

Once it begins to stiffen and loose it's shine, stop the mixer, remove the bowl and fold the nuts into the candy very quickly.

Then, begin spooning teaspoons full of the divinity onto aluminum foil or a greased baking sheet. (Careful, it's still hot)
When all the warm candy has been spooned out, leave for 30 minutes to cool, dry and harden.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen we have, yet again, a failure.... It is just too humid on the west side of the cascades to make divinity....

But I did make the most perfect little goo gobs to have with coffee... yum yummy! NOT!

I did find out later that I was wrong about how dry it was. According to the Weatherman, the humidity was 86% today.... OOPS!

Oh well, if at first you don't succeed... try, try again... :)

Mangia!!
~~

3 comments:

Patti T. said...

Awwwww Shane, sorry they didn't turn out. I am sure your friend would have loved them. I have eaten violets, but never used them in cooking other than on a salad. I think the flavor of them is a bit tart, is that the taste that would have come through in this divinity?

Culinary Alchemist said...

Patti - It doesn't really "taste" per se. It ends up giving you more of a smell. :)

Danielle said...

My aunt in Alabama makes these every year. I've only had them a time or two and LOVE them. I tried making them once and failed miserably. Maybe I should try it again (when it stops raining perhaps?) Bummer they didn't turn out :(