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Mrs. Betty's Pecan Divinity and The Peanut Brittle That Built A Church

Read about Mrs. Betty's Recipe Box

Bonus recipe below...The Peanut Brittle That Built A Church

MRS. BETTY'S PECAN DIVINITYMrs. Betty's Divinity

In the South, we sometimes overuse the word divine.  We refer to pork as divine swine, good folks as having divine qualities or heart, and of course, those divine sisterhood secrets.   I don’t know how Divinity candy got its name, but since it did originate in the South, I can only guess that someone first tasted it and yelled, “Divine!”

Divinity is one of those candies that immediately make me think of Christmas or Easter, and while it is a wonderful holiday treat, it’s great any time of the year. 

I learned something the first time I made Mrs. Betty’s Pecan Divinity.  I learned that glass candy thermometers can break.  Now, I’ve had that candy thermometer for years, but somehow it broke in the process of making this Divinity.  However, I didn’t realize it until I had them all spooned out and looking pretty and ready to eat.  The fear of gifting someone shards of glass for Christmas forced me to throw out the entire batch.  The next day I went out and bought a stainless steel digital candy thermometer, and since I’ve always been accident prone in the kitchen, it's something I should have done a long time ago. 

My mom always taught me that when making candy, you should have all the ingredients measured out and ready before starting.  That’s very important for this recipe, as well as watching the humidity.  It’s best to make Divinity when the humidity is below 50 percent, so I would not advise making it first thing in the morning or on a rainy day.  

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,  as His Divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue (2 Peter 1: 3-4)

Divinity Recipe

MRS. BETTY'S PECAN DIVINITY

3 cups sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup water

2 egg whites

1 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon vanilla

Have all ingredients ready before the candy making begins.  Line with parchment paper or grease a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.  Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a pot over medium heat.  Meanwhile beat the egg whites until stiff.  Be careful not to let the egg whites get watery before sugar mixture is ready.  Cook sugar mixture until candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees (soft ball stage).  Pour over egg whites and beat until the mixture loses some of its gloss and becomes stiff.   Stir in the vanilla and pecans. Drop by teaspoonful onto prepared pan and allow to cool. 

Here's a bonus recipe for you!

The Peanut Brittle That Built A Church

While we’re on the topic of sugar and divine things, I want to share another old fashioned candy recipe that actually saved a church. When I was a kid, we had a red and white 1970-something Volkswagen van, and my parents would drive around town picking up widows and kids and take them to church three times a week. Getting to know those wise church ladies can really teach you some life lessons. This is one of their stories.

The little country church I grew up in was established in 1944 during the war.  Building a church and keeping the lights on while many of the men were off to war was not easy. The ladies of the church wanted to make sure that the when the soldiers came home, they had a church to come home to, so they started selling peanut brittle, making it from their “special” secret recipe. 

They continued to sell their peanut brittle for many years at $1.50 for 2 (large) pieces; however, they were very protective of their recipe and would not share it with anyone. 

One day, after all but one of those women had passed away, my mom was talking with the one living peanut-brittle-making church lady and got up the nerve to ask her for the recipe.  Well, she told my mom exactly how they made it, and she died not long after that. The recipe is similar to other peanut brittle recipes out there, but I will tell you, it has turned out perfect for me each time. 

Peanut brittle was the favorite “food” of my dad’s dad, who we called Papaw Charlie; he lived well into his 90’s, and his eyes would light up any time we had it around.  I didn’t realize how much other people adore this candy until I started making it—it does not last long at all.   

As you try it, think about all those ladies who made this very same recipe, with love, for generation of friends, families, and a very grateful church. 

Peanut Brittle IngredientsTHE PEANUT BRITTLE THAT BUILT A CHURCH

3 cups sugar

1 cup water

1 cup corn syrup

4 Tablespoons butter, divided

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups peanuts (or pecans)

Have all ingredients ready before the candy making begins.  Grease a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan or line with parchment paper.  In a small bowl mix together the baking soda and salt; add 2 Tablespoons butter and set aside.  In a large pot (mom’s recipe says “kettle”), stir together the sugar, water, corn syrup, and remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter.  Cook the sugar mixture until a candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees (soft ball stage), stirring constantly.  Add the peanuts, and continue to cook over medium heat for until candy thermometer reaches 302 degrees (hard crack stage), stirring constantly.

Immediately remove from heat and add the soda, salt, and butter mixture and stir. Pour onto prepared pan and spread with the back of a spoon or knife.  Work quickly, since the candy hardens rapidly.  

I would not recommend making this with small children, since the mixture is very hot.

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