Erica over at The Good Old Days has a regular "retro recipe" feature, in which she chronicles her attempts (sometimes successful, sometimes scary) to reproduce vintage recipes.
Recently, she made pecan confections, which suddenly put me in mind of divinity, a type of candy I remember making when I was a kid, which--as I recalled--also started from a base of egg whites and sugar.
So, I tracked down a recipe in a 1943 edition of The Joy of Cooking that we keep around for a few of the old-school dishes that the current edition ditched in favor of things like "Penne with Vodka Sauce."
Not only was there a divinity recipe in there (several, in fact), the previous owner had hand-written yet another divinity recipe on one of the blank pages in the back. That one was too complicated for our tastes (it required boiling the sugar syrup twice, once to the soft-ball stage and then to the hard-ball stage). So we stuck with the original.
If I made this as a kid, I seem to have forgotten the part in which you have to put the syrup-egg white mixture back over the heat and beat it until it forms stiff peaks. Let me tell you, you have to work for this candy; working in shifts, the two of us beat the mixture for a good 15-20 minutes before it started to set up, and this is not light whisking...this is serious muscling-around of an incredibly thick and viscous substance. Our arms are gonna hurt tomorrow.
Then into a greased pan...
And later, after it solidified, we cut it into pieces, and--having determined that it was way too sticky to store--wrapped up each individual piece in waxed paper. That's right. About 80 pieces, total.
The verdict? Meh. The flavor and texture are a lot like a really heavy marshmallow fluff, but with chopped pecans in it. Subtle flavor, not as sweet as you might expect...I suppose it's kind of like a nougat.
But is it worth the time and effort? I don't think so. It was fun to make it again and remember what, exactly, divinity was, but unsurprisingly, it didn't live up to my memories of it. No Proust moment here!