What the South lacks in snowy white winters, we more than make up for in Sugar! After all, how many regions can boast sugar plantations, big copper pots bubbling with molten sugar for Pralines right on the streets, and Sugar Cane chopped and ready to make Sorghum Syrup? One of the joys of my childhood was getting a sliver of sugar cane and chewing on it at county fairs or farmers markets. Long jointed fat sugar canes stripped and chopped into three inch pieces were a special treat for adults and children alike. In the South,
- Most of us are born with a Sweet Tooth.
- Sugar is a pet name- pronounced- ‘Sugah’ even shortened to ‘Shug’ .
- To say ‘Give me some Sugar.’ is to ask for a peck on the cheek or a Sweet Southern Kiss.
I admit to believing Sugar had it’s own special magical qualities. Cooks I knew would say: ‘Now, Betty Jo, you know we can’t make Divinity this week- it’s raining, we’ll have to wait until a good dry day or that Divinity will be as hard as a rock!’ The same was true for Pralines or Chocolate Fudge- make it on a rainy day and it would be grainy, they said- ‘Not fit to eat.’ And, horror of all horrors- ‘Can you believe she put out that grainy Fudge and that hard Divinity? I almost died’.Sugar syrup is a staple in the Southern Pantry- a must have for iced tea or added with confectioner’s sugar to make Icing for cakes. Now, remember, we don’t say Frosting. For holiday candy making, making a sugar syrup with a candy thermometer is a must- it has to be bubbled to just the right temperature, for the type of candy you are making-
I have yet to per-fect even the first batch of Southern Pralines or Divinity- however they are on the culinary bucket list! I can make Snow White Marshmallows, a fairly decent caramel and if the weather conditions and the candy thermometer are just right, ButterToffee is one of my favorites! Topped with Chocolate and Chopped Pecans, I have to say- it is a little bite of heaven.
The mystery of sugar, the science of sugar, the timing, the weather conditions, the culinary art of candy making is daunting, yet somehow irresistible to me. I drag home five pound bags of sugar, dreaming of the perfect batch of Butter Toffee, Caramels or homemade Snow White Marshmallows, sugary visions dancing in my head. Give me some Sugar, a big pot and a candy thermometer and I’m transformed into a combination of Meteorologist, Mad Scientist and Cauldron Watcher. I feel very mysterious and sticky! If the candy doesn’t turn out- I throw it out and start all over! I never failed to be amazed how- cooking sugar to one temperature can result in an amber colored Butter Toffee and another temperature results in a perfect batch of Snow White Marshmallows-
Here’s a photo journey- Butter Toffee first:
Love y’all, Camellia
*All photographs are mine.