It had been probably 15 years since I last made divinity.

If you’ve ever eaten it, you know that good divinity is a beautiful thing — delicate little clouds of fluffy sugar, like a dainty, standalone version of that decadent fluff they put in the middle of Krispy Kremes.

If you’ve ever made it, you know that divinity is also a maddening thing — temperamental, with a perverse tendency to ignore every known principle of chemistry or physics and do just exactly the opposite of what you’re expecting. For instance, the batch I made last night, when the weather was bitterly cold and very dry — ideal divinity-making conditions — turned out chewy and reminiscent of the awful prepackaged stuff that passes for divinity at convenience stores. Tonight, with rain falling outside and humidity at 85 percent, I used a different recipe (Mom and I determined that the first one had errors in both the temperature and the mixing time) and made what is probably the best divinity I’ve ever eaten.

Here’s the recipe, in case you’re interested. Divinity is fickle, so your mileage may vary … but the ingredients are cheap, and when it’s good, the end product is to die for.

The recipe is from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies cookbook, with additional notations by Mom and me:

Perfect Divinity

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan (Mom recommends aluminum or copper if you’ve got it, as it heats more evenly), combine 2-1/2 cups granulated sugar, 1/2 cup light corn syrup, 1/2 cup water, and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook over high heat to hard-ball stage (260 degrees), stirring only till sugar dissolves. Meanwhile, when the syrup starts to boil, beat two room-temperature egg whites until stiff peaks form. When syrup reaches 260 degrees, very gradually add the syrup to egg whites (drizzle it in there in a stream no bigger around than a pencil), beating at high speed with electric mixer the whole time. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and beat till candy holds its shape (about 4 or 5 minutes). If desired, add 1/2 cup chopped nuts. Drop from a teaspoon onto waxed paper; swirl top. Makes about 40.

Give to people you love and/or want to impress.


Folk Thursday: Bonus track

It’s not Thursday, but my little sister called me this evening to tell me that she’d gotten out of bed on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day with this song stuck in her head. She thought it might make a good Folk Thursday offering. I liked it so much that I decided to post it today, while we’re all thinking about King’s legacy.

Not sure I agree with all of the slideshow creator’s selections (I don’t think I’d put Tupac Shakur and Princess Diana up there with Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, and Gandhi) … but if the Ray Charles version of this song doesn’t tear your heart out, you probably don’t have one.

Let’s all honor Abraham, Martin and John by making some sparks in the dark this week.