Mark Ballard

Keeping sweet memories alive

Mark Ballard whipped up this platter of divinity.
Mark Ballard whipped up this platter of divinity. Special to The Telegraph

Fluffy white clouds of sweetness is how I’ve always referred to them. As a small boy, I remember staring at platters filled with them while my mouth watered. A single pecan usually adorned the top of each one and they literally melted in my mouth. There is no doubt they tasted divine. Perhaps that’s why they’re called divinity. It’s hard to beat the taste of pure sugar that has been puffed into a marshmallow cream. I wondered how to make divinity.

As a young adult, I met an older lady named Delora who made the best divinity. I rarely visited her home when some divinity wasn’t stored in lidded Tupperware containers or metal tins. She always offered me a piece or two and I never refused.

“Delora, how do you make divinity?” I asked her one day. “I’ll be happy to show you the next time I make some if you are interested.” she replied. Sure enough, the next time she was going to whip up a batch, she gave me a call and asked me if I could come and pick up her friend, Esther, who usually helped her.

The next day when I arrived at Esther’s house, she was dressed as if she was going to church. In one hand was her pocket book. In the other, was a large pot in a plastic grocery bag. Esther was a tiny lady and both the purse and the pot appeared too heavy for her to hold. She was a beautiful, soft-spoken lady. I enjoyed getting to know her on the short drive to Delora’s house. She told me she had once worked in a candy factory and that’s where she learned her divinity making skills. We arrived at Delora’s house to find her in miss-matched culottes and blouse. “Why are you so dressed up?” she asked Esther, grabbing the pot. “We’re here to work for goodness sakes.”

Delora was loud and direct and basically the opposite of Esther. She even hurled out a cuss word here and there without any warning. We visited while cups and cups of sugar were measured and eggs were separated since the egg whites were all we needed. There was so much going on at one time that I was worried I would never see any divinity.

Delora assigned us jobs and Esther and I complied without hesitation. Things were going smoothly until Delora and Esther had a fight about the temperature the boiling sugar mixture needed to reach on the candy thermometer. They argued back and forth. Both of their eye sights were failing so I jumped in to read the recipe. Amazingly, we ended up with a beautiful batch of divinity. After we divided it up and cleaned up the kitchen, Esther retrieved her purse and pot and we headed back to our homes.

From that point, every year near the first of December, we went through the exact same process and produced mounds and mounds of divinity for the holidays. Practice makes perfect and I soon became a divinity expert myself. I asked Delora one time if rainy, damp weather affected divinity as I had often heard. “That’s hogwash!” she answered, and, to this day, my divinity has never failed. During one session, since Delora had a kitchen full of pots, I asked her why Esther always brought her pot. “I don’t know!” she said abruptly. “That was my pot to begin with anyway!” I couldn’t help but laugh.

Age began to win the battle with both ladies and our divinity-making sessions gradually tapered off. Both ladies passed away many years ago, but I still have all the wonderful memories we made while making divinity. I made a batch the other day for Valentine’s Day and wished they could have been there. I almost decided not to make it since it was raining but then remembered Delora’s comment. I just started measuring sugar and, before I knew it, I had some fluffy white clouds of sweetness!

Spring Wreath Making Classes with Mark. Feb. 24, Feb. 26 or March 3. E-mail or call for additional details.

Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email mark@markballard.com; follow him at instagram.com/mark creates; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.

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