When I was growing up in Georgia, I made a candy called Divinity every year for Chistmas.  I would give plates of it away as gifts.   Somewhere over the years, I stopped making it.  This year, I decided to make it once more, and I am so glad that I did.  My decision was inspired by the delicious nougat from Montelimar that I must have every time I am in France.  I think that Southern-style Divinity is very similar in flavor, but is made with toasted pecans instead of hazelnuts.  I wanted to see if it was as good as I remembered.  It is.  Here is my simple recipe for this Southern holiday treat.

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
2 large or 3 small egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
Approx. 3 dozen  toasted pecan halves

You will also need:
Medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan
Candy thermometer
Electric mixer

Mix together the sugar and water in a medium-sized saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce the heat to medium high.   Cook for about ten minutes without stirring, until the temperature reaches 266 degrees Fahrenheit on the candy thermometer.  Remove from the heat and let cool down for about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  After the sugar mixture has cooled for three minutes, add it in a steady stream to the egg whites while beating with the electric mixer.  Add the vanilla and continue to beat the candy for about 20 minutes until it starts to stiffen. Add the chopped, toasted pecans.  When the candy has enough body to hold its shape, spoon about a tablespoonful at a time out onto parchment paper.  Press a toasted pecan into the center.  Let completely cool at room temperature before handling.   Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. 

Makes about 3 dozen pieces.

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