When the weather is cool, clear and dry, candy makers call it a "day for divinity."
Because I live in the South, my divinity days are few and far between.
Those words are rooted in the view that candy-making success, including Christmas favorites like divinity and fudge, relies on outside humidity levels of 60 percent or less.
Even in homes where air-conditioning and dehumidying systems cool and dry the inside air, the outside air still plays a role in whether or not our candy sets up straight and firm or falls flat into a gooey, sticky, runny mass.
Besides good weather, a few tools are also essential to candy making. These include a deep, heavy saucepan, a double boiler, a sturdy wooden spoon and a thermometer designed for candy making when temperature is a critical component of a recipe.
Some very experienced candy makers, however, do not use a candy thermometer and have faith in the "cold water test," where a small amount of the hot candy mixture is dropped into cold water.
There also are some fairly uncomplicated candy recipes that don't require temperature monitoring to attain good results.
Candy making takes practice. Don't be discouraged if your first attempt is not what you hoped for. You could be one of the lucky ones who achieves success at first try, but if not, take heart. More divinity days are just around the Christmas corner.
Sue Ade is a gourmet baker and collector of vintage cooking utensils and cookbooks. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-683-0375.
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