Grandma’s Sea Foam Candy (Divinity Candy)–No Corn Syrup
An old fashioned treat, sea foam candy is perfect for holidays. Here are Instructions direct from Grandma–with no corn syrup!
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With the holidays coming, who’s getting nostalgic for vintage food?
If your family’s like mine, you probably had some of the same foods every Thanksgiving! And it’s hard to believe but this happy (and sentimental) holiday is almost here!
So today I made a dearly loved, old family recipe we called “sea foam.” It’s a sweet, melt-in-the-mouth candy that my grandmother was famous for (at least to us) and always graced our holiday dessert table!
Plus it’s completely fat free and doesn’t use any corn syrup (which will likely be GMO if you don’t buy organic). Pretty good for a candy!
How is Sea Foam Different from Divinity?
The recipe is similar to Divinity, another traditional holiday treat. Per Wikipedia, “Divinity Candy is a nougat-like confection made with egg white, corn syrup, and sugar… Replacing the sugar with brown sugar results in a related confection called “sea foam”. ” The other difference is that a divinity dessert is more likely to have add-ins like nuts or raisins though those are always optional.
There is also a strong relationship to Italian meringue.
Of course from my personal perspective, I’d rather have a melt-in-the-mouth candy with the richness of brown sugar. Just sayin’ 🙂 !
Now, this is probably my most commented post and people often have questions about how to make it. So I’ve decided to do a quick update, including a video!
And if video’s not your thing, here’s how to make it…
Step by Step Directions
Mix white sugar, brown sugar and water then boil until 255F on an instant read thermometer.
While it cooks, beat two egg whites until stiff. Put a teaspoon of vanilla into egg white bowl so you don’t forget it.
When it reaches the proper temperature, pour the hot syrup into the egg white bowl while beating with mixer. Don’t worry about getting out all the syrup (later you can soak the pan and the stuck on syrup will dissolve).
Beat syrup and egg mixture until it loses gloss, stiff peaks form and it will hold shape.
Spoon out tablespoons onto wax paper, using a second spoon to push off candy (since it’s hot).
Let cool at room temperature, then enjoy!
Tips and Notes
The candy is really pretty basic and I have been making it since I was a teen. The only “trick” is the proper beating time, but it’s still good if you don’t get it perfect.
The other challenge is working quickly to scoop out the pieces of candy, which is really only a problem if you are trying to take pictures while doing it . I usually like to ask one of my kids to help, and in a pinch my husband will pitch in too.
Yes, usually not hard to get help when making a delicious family treat that everyone counts on for the holidays!
More Classic Candy Recipes
An old fashioned treat, sea foam candy is perfect for holidays and other special occasions. Don't worry about pouring every bit of syrup out of the saucepan. When it stops flowing out, just set aside and soak later to (easily) dissolve the remaining syrup. Nutrition data accuracy may vary with product selection, calculator accuracy, etc. Consult a professional for the best information.
Sea Foam Candy (aka Divinity Candy)
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 74Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 6mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 0gSugar: 19gProtein: 0g
An old fashioned treat, sea foam candy is perfect for holidays and other special occasions.
Don't worry about pouring every bit of syrup out of the saucepan. When it stops flowing out, just set aside and soak later to (easily) dissolve the remaining syrup.
Nutrition data accuracy may vary with product selection, calculator accuracy, etc. Consult a professional for the best information.
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So glad I found this. I’ve been looking for years for the recipe. My mom made it for us in the 1960s and early 70s, both as candy and as cake frosting. I’m sure she used the same method for both, because she would use part of it for the frosting and would put the remainder in dollops on wax paper. It would become a little “crunchy” on the outside by the next day, but the inside would melt in your mouth. Not sure if that’s the way it’s meant to be, but that was her version. So good!
My grandma used to make it as cake frosting; she mixed in black walnuts that she’d collected herself, and put it on a chocolate cake. She would have my mother bring it in to school on special occasions, when all the kids would bring something, and the nuns would always put aside that cake for themselves! Haha!
That sound just like how it’s supposed to be Anne! Nothing like rediscovering a special childhood recipe! Thanks for sharing!
This is a brilliant recipe for health conscious people like me. I would like to know how you made the frosting.
And fun too! If you google”boiled frosting” you may find something similar to the frosting. It’s possible I’ll figure out the gingerbread and frosting this fall. In that case I’ll post it, so if you check back or subscribe, you’ll catch any updates!
Just made these today and they have set beautifully (I used parchment paper sprinkled with a little confectioners sugar because sometimes candies don’t come up cleanly otherwise). I’m excited because my daughter is vegetarian and won’t eat marshmallows but these seem to hit the same kind of spot – with no corn syrup and no gelatin! However, where we live is very humid, so I hope they don’t turn to mush before we can eat them… :-/
Thanks for sharing this awesomely simple recipe!
This is the first time I’ve heard anyone use these as a marshmallow substitute, but you are right, they share a lot of similarities! You might take a look at my smores pie (https://artofnaturalliving.com/smores-pie/) for another vegetarian option with an even more marshmallow-y top. Good luck with the humidity–ours never last long! Thanks for your comment!
This was my mom’s recipe!! She made this every Christmas. She also made a spice cake with “sea foam” icing for me every year. I wonder if I would need to adjust the recipe for icing?
Just a fun note…according to her, “sometimes her candy would turn out beautiful…sometimes not so much”. But for us kids we ate it regardless. Thanks for posting this. I’m going to try to make it this afternoon!
What a fun memory Sally! If you want to try frosting a cake with this you might need to stoop beating it a little earlier since it hardens quickly. I do have an old frosting recipe that is similar but slightly different that might work better:
In heavy saucepan mix 1 1/2 c sugar & 1/2 c water. Bring to a boil and do not stir after it boils. Cook til it spins a thread at least 2 inches long (238 – 242 degrees F)
In a large mixing bowl, beat 3 egg whites til stiff but not dry
Pour syrup over egg whites beating all the time.
Spread over the cake, preferably while still warm.
How long does it take for the egg whites and sugar mixture to become stiff?
I would say somewhere around 10 minutes. It would go a bit faster in a more powerful mixer like a kitchenaid stand and slower with a hand mixer. I’ll time it the next time I try it and update the recipe. Good question!
I have never had this. I’ve heard of it, but never tried it. It’s so intriguing I will have to find my candy thermometer.
I used to use a candy thermometer but now I just use my regular instant read thermometer and that works just fine. Nice since more people have that (or don’t have to hunt for it 🙂 )
My grandmother used to make divinity every Christmas for us. It was snow white little peaks that were light as a feather with a vanilla taste and had pecans. I remember her always saying that it couldn’t be made on a humid day. Isn’t it wonderful that we have these memories from years ago. Your sea foam candy appears to be very similar. Thank you for sharing both your story and your video.
I don’t think I’ve ever made it in summer so I guess I can’t say if humidity has ever caused me problems. Guess I’m lucky the holidays (and my brother’s birthday) are in winter!
I have never tried to make divinity. This makes me want to give it a try!
I hope this helps if you try it Thao
It’s been forever since I have made divinity and I love your recipe for it. This just might make an appearance this holiday season.
I’d say we all deserve a special treat this year Lisa!
I’m super curious about the texture of this candy! Love that it’s a family tradition for you!
Yes, the texture is very creamy and melt-in-the-mouth. So good!
My mom used to make it in dollops, too. A lot of people I know spread it in the pan. I think the dollops make it pretty!
Wow–I had never heard of that before. That might be quicker if I didn’t have a helper.
I have never had divinity fudge. But now I want to make this as well as some divinity just to compare. 🙂
What a delightful memory! I have a vague recollection of this candy and need to reintroduce myself.
I’m not sure I’ve ever had this before but I’m intrigued! I love candy and this sounds so good.
My mom used to make this at Christmas time. Thanks for the fond food memories.
Thanks for sharing – My Mom made this with us in the 70”s! It was always one of my favorites! Can’t wait to try it again
This is the kind of comment I love the most! Have fun and feel free to comment back if you have any challenges. (Hope to have a video out before the upcoming holidays)
Thank you for sharing a corn free recipe. I am allergic to corn and thought I’d never be able to make Divinity candy.
I am so happy that this will work for you Lee!
I tried to make this Christmas Eve this year the problem i had was it not setting up completely ; one side was hard but the underside never got hard. and it fell apart when picked up to eat , help. I was really excited when i found this ! i can’t do corn syrians this reminded so much if my Grandmothers recipe . Help !
I can think of two reasons this might not set up Michele. The first is that the sugar syrup didn’t get to the proper temperature. This can happen by accident or if your thermometer isn’t calibrated properly. (You can google how to check a thermometer, but the easiest way is probably to put it in some water with ice and see if it registers around 32F.) The other reason might be that it didn’t get beaten long enough after you add the sugar–in that case, it would tend to be sticky, especially the first pieces. Feel free to comment back if you have some more detail or more questions.
Next year, I hope to do a video, which might help too, so check back next year if that might help.
I remember my mom used Karo syrup in hers.Boy they were delicious.I do remember they had to be made in the fall or winter.No warm months.
I don’t remember ever worrying about the humidity for these, though both Christmas and my brother’s birthday are in winter. But I hear this all the time in regard to sponge candy which I’ve definitely only eaten over the holidays. Yum!
Thank you so much for this recipe. Growing up poor, this was the only candy momma could make us. So thankful for the recipe. Also Greatful for no gmo syrup included.
I am so happy you found this Ruth! If you have any problems with it, leave a new comment and I’ll try to help. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I am absolutely thrilled to have found this recipe. My grandmother made divinity and sea foam every year at Christmas for every family. Believe me all of us kids could hardly wait until that shoe box was opened and the tin foil was unwrapped. The sea foam was the first to disappear because we all loved that that delicious white candy that just melted in our mouths. When Grandma died I tried to find her recipe from my aunt who inherited all her recipes. No luck, Grandma apparently never wrote it down. I have been searching cookbooks for years without success, thank you so much for sharing.
I am so happy to hear this Kathie! Yes, all those recipes that didn’t get written down sure do challenge the next generations! I am hoping to get out a video before the holiday baking season! Enjoy!
I remember trying divinity years ago and it didn’t come out well. Since this one doesn’t use corn syrup, I thought I would give it a try as it will make a special addition to give to the children during my children’s moment on Sunday when Jesus calmed the sea. What better to help them remember the lesson than “Sea Foam”? The recipe worked like a charm! I even added chopped nuts after whipping the syrup into the egg whites. Thanks so much!
I am so glad this worked for you Sherri! I am sure the kids really enjoyed it–what a great way to make the story “come alive.” Thank you for sharing!
I sent an old recipe to family in California this last Christmas. My grandma made it every year for my dad (rip). It’s the Hershey Coco fudge recipe that was printed on the Coco can (the can use to be metal). It brought back memories of when they both were alive. It was an absolute pleasure knowing the family in California enjoyed the good old days. They said this is grandma Davis %
I just wanted to share. Crumble chocolate fudge
I remember the fudge on the Cocoa can Cathy! In fact its on my list of things to try again! You were so kind to send it to family. I will have to see if I can organized enough to mail something out next year! Thanks for sharing!
Hi can you add chopped pecans?
I have never tried it, but you could fold in pecans at the end. It is definitely sticky enough to hold them up Kyle!
I’d lost my Momma’s recipe for Seafoam candy until I found yours here. I am so happy to be able to make this cherished family tradition once again! Even after all the years (25+) since I last had a piece I can still remember how it melted in my mouth and the wonderful taste of it. Thanks so much for posting the recipe!
I am so happy you found this Cheryl! I know how exciting it can be to revive an old family recipe–I’m hoping to do my grandmother’s gingerbread for Christmas this year! Thanks for commenting!
My mom made this every christmas and would tint it a light green, she also agreed that humidity was good. However she also dashed our advice to use a mixer saying it had to be beaten by hand so as she got older it was like an assembly line in her kitchen my 4 older sisters, mom and myself would all take turns beating it til our as ached. Its so wonderful to know using a mixer works fine. Thanks for sharing!
Oh my goodness–beating this by hand would be a big job! I am glad to have learned it the “high tech” way 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story and if the mixer gives you any problems feel free to write back!
All my years of making candy the sea foam was tan and the divinity was white. That’s the recipes that were handed down to me. Over the years I’ve heard them mixed many times and actually argued over! Ha! Go figure! The candy was eaten regardless of what it was called!
Yes, I didn’t know which name people would be using so I used them both. Wouldn’t want someone to miss finding a long lost recipe because I stood too firmly on tradition 🙂
I am 51 year dad and I want to thank you for posting this recipe. My 12 year old daughter and I. were baking and I was telling her how I wish i knew my grandma Nelly seafoam candy recipe. My grandma was blind and never needed to measure anything and always turned out perfect. We made it and it was almost as good as granny chick,s wich is what me and sisters and neighbor kids called her. Great memories of an awesome lady. Thank you
I always get excited to see comments like this Terry! I am working on recreating some more recipes from my grandmother too and I know how exciting it is when something works! And what a fun activity to share with your daughter! Thank you for sharing!
Inger, thank-you for sharing both the recipe and it’s story! I was trying to make divinity for a copycat Snickers bar recipe yesterday, and it failed twice (when I made it 4 years ago, it was fine). With your lifetime experience of making it, have you ever come across this particular problem? As soon as I would slowly add the syrup to the whites, the syrup hardened into a clear hard sugar candy and created what looked like spun sugar all over the sides of the bowl. Hardly any of it mixed in to the whites and it bent the whisk attachment of my Kitchenaid 7-quart stand mixer. I live in San Diego, so there were no humidity issues. My syrup used 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup (sorry!), and 1/4 cup water heated to 275, which I stirred throughout. One egg white was beaten with a bit of salt to stiff peaks. Do you have any thoughts on what caused this problem; has it ever happened to you? I was trying to make homemade Snickers bars that were so delicious the first time I made them that I just hate to give up on them, just yet. Thank-you so much!
Sorry to answer so late, but this went into my spam folder for some odd reason. Your syrup should cook only to about 255, not 275. It just keeps getting harder the longer it cooks so I think that is your problem. If that doesn’t help, feel free to write back and we can brainstorm some more. Have fun!
My husbands favorite candy growing up was divinity. He is now diabetic though & am wondering if you know anyone who sells sugar free divinity or if that’s even possible to make? He would live it. Thanks.
You know I did some searching online and found one woman commenting that she thought she could make a divinity recipe she found using “sugar twin” instead of sugar, but didn’t know what to do about the corn syrup. Since my recipe doesn’t have corn syrup, you wouldn’t have that problem.
I do find that candy is “fussier” than baking about the sugar you use. I don’t even use organic in many of my candies for this reason. But the only way to know would be to give it a try with a substitute. The most you would lose is an hour of time and a few ingredients if you are up for it. If you do try it, I’d love to hear if it works or not! Good luck in your search!
Thank you soooo much. My grandmother made me this when I was 10 and now I am 46 and haven’t had it since. I had never found the right recipe until now. Going to make it tonight with the girls.
Good luck Will. If you have any problems feel free to comment back and I can try to troubleshoot. Have fun!
I am so excited to find this recipe! My grandma made this every year at Christmas. She is now living in my home on Hospice and I want to carry on her tradition this year! Thank you so much!! I can’t wait to enjoy and share this candy with my family!
I am so happy you can use this Julie. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you get a chance. If you have any problems, feel free to comment back or email me. I have helped people who are new to candy making before.
I think this is what my grandmother used to make. Does it almost melt when you put it in your mouth?
Yes, it does Brenda! If you try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!
It helps a lot! Thanks for all your help and such a quick response!
Thank you for this recipe. My youngest and I made it today because he’s learning the letter d (for divinity) this week. Sadly, I must have done something wrong. I just finished putting them on the wax paper and tasted a bit. It has good flavor, but is very grainy and has little pieces of something all through it. I’m wondering if the egg whites got cooked as the sugar mixture got beaten in. Or maybe the whites were over beaten? Has this ever happened to you? Any advice? Thanks!
Oh also, how long do they normally take to set up? Thanks.
It is normal for them to set up immediately. Guessing yours did since you mention graininess. Usually the first candy I scoop out is a fairly smooth mound and by the end there are some craggy clumps, since it is starting to harden in the pan. If you want to email me a picture, I am happy to take a look and see what that tells me. email: artofnaturalliving (at) live (dot) com
I just sent you a picture! Thanks so much for all your help and answering so quickly!
Your picture is beautiful Marcy. Looks like you did a great job and just weren’t sure what to expect. And a big congrats to your little sous-chef for making his first candy! Enjoy!
I have occasionally had something that seems like it might be tiny pieces of cooked egg white and have never quite figured out why that is–I usually just ignore it. I am pretty sure it isn’t overbeating the whites since I know I hadn’t done that. One of the things I did which seemed to help is that I now only use conventional (not organic) sugar in these. I use almost all organic products but for candy making it seems to be hit or miss–more miss. I have also wondered if pausing a little before pouring the boiling sugar over the whites would help, but you can’t pause too long or the sugar will solidify in the pan.
Graininess I know well and usually means that you beat the eggs and sugar mixture a little longer than you needed to or that you didn’t get the candies scooped out quickly enough (I really fly doing this).
The other problem I can readily diagnose is bit of hardness to the finished candy which means the sugar got too hot–my candy thermometer is off and I did that to my brother’s birthday candy (I made him a new batch after though we ate the harder candy anyway)
Hope this helps. Feel free to write back if you try these again and have more questions.
Thanks for the great recipe. I have tried to make Divinity before, with the corn syrup and had absolutely no luck! This worked fabulously! I made only a 1/2 batch, and made sure the sugar was to a hard ball stage – I tested it with water. Thanks again!
I am so happy to hear that this worked for you Sharon–thanks for letting me know! I think I made at 3-4 batches for the holidays (plus some for my brother’s birthday) over the past month!
I just made this it taste great warm hope it set up .. It is on the wax paper waiting to be oack in a run for the holidays
You are smart to be getting a jump on the holidays! This usually sets up very quickly for me–we are usually rushing to get it all scooped out in time. If it is soft and spreading, you might try beating it longer next time. If you have problems I am happy to try to help troubleshoot–just leave another comment or email.
Thanks sooooooooo much for this…My daughter…(57) just asked about a ‘recipe from our “old maid aunts…that used to make>>Seafoam Candy’.>>> & here you are giving one………..not sure this is it….but, sure sounds like it………I knew it was NOT divinity……because it uses Brown Sugar….& is on the”’tannish color”’ which this does look like it……..they used to make it very often…… & we Loved it ! thanks again……………sure will be trying it……… & it does not use… Corn Syrup !
I love hearing that someone has found a long lost recipe on my blog! I hope this works out for you. I’d love to hear back either way and let me know if you or your daughter have any questions.
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This was really good. Me and my grandma were trying to find an easy divinity recipe that didn’t use corn syrup, and this was a complete success! 🙂 We even added some chopped pecans. Yummy. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for letting me know Kailee! This recipe has meant so much to our family and I am happy that others are getting to enjoy it.
Thanks the Divinity was soo good
I am so glad you enjoyed!
My mother always made several recipes at Christmas that filled a huge Christmas tin she had. When anyone came to visit over the holidays they were offered this along with 5 # fudge and brown sugar fudge to eat and to take some home with them. I loved helping her. Her only complaint was she would not make if it was raining, snowing, or high humidity. She explained that the recipe would fail because of too much moisture in the air. Her sea foam candy was always perfect. She had the touch!
It sounds like you had some wonderful Christmas traditions Linda! Thank you for sharing.
I wanted to thank you for this post. My mother made Sea Foam every year for the holidays. She always told us how difficult it was and how temperamental it was! Mama has been gone for 22 years now.
My sister had tried making Sea Foam 3 different times and each time it failed. I went to her house today, after looking at your recipe, and we compared it to Mama’s. The ratio of ingredients was different, but similar. However, the cooking temperature was way different. We used your temperature and it was the answer to our dilemma.
The Sea Foam is delicious! Taking the first bite, I was taken back to the taste of childhood. We took some to our brother…we are waiting to hear from him!
Now, on to try Mama’s Penuche and Fudge!!
This is so nice to hear–thank you for letting me know! I still have a couple recipes from my mother and grandmother that I am working to figure out so I understand!
Is this sea foam like the chocolate covered sea foam candy you buy in the stores, minus the chocolate?
I was reading that there are two different types, one with the toffee almost flavor and crunch that you can cover in chocolate and one that is more meringue like.
Hoping to make it tonight..
This is the meringue like type Sarah. I have a recipe for the other too but I haven’t tried it. If you get a chance I’d love to hear how it goes.
i’d gladly dust off my candy thermometer for a melt-in-your-mouth treat like this! delightful!
Ohhh, melt-in-your-mouth is a perfect description! Thanks Grace!
Not knowing what the carrot recipe was, I’d say your brother got the better end of that deal!!! Sea Foam Candy is a classic. The notion that the recipe has been passed around is just delightful, Inger. I do hope the next generation does the same.
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, the step by step and of course the thought:)
Ohhhh, given how badly my diet is going, Louise, I’m not sure I didn’t get the better of the deal 😉 But I haven’t even made the carrots yet, alas. In any case, it was fun making the sea foam even if I only ate a piece or two!
I haven’t tasted sea foam candy since childhood. How interesting to see how it’s made!
I have fun every time I revive an old family recipe. For next Christmas I really need to work on my grandmother’s gingerbread, which no one has been able to reproduce…
Candy doesn’t seem to be my forte, but this looks like a fun recipe to try. I’ll have to keep st in y mind for our next celebration – my husband does not enjoy chocolate, so I think he would appreciate this!
A relative of my husband’s has high cholesterol and really restricts fat–I was thinking of this for him too.
This is a fun birthday gift! And how funny that it came out of a request for a healthy recipe.
I used to do this for Christmas every year, but I think a post Christmas birthday works even better.
Looks fun. Can’t wait to try it.
If you get a chance to try it, I’d love to know how it turns out for you…
Oh my…these look amazing! I love divinity…It’s been a long time since I’ve made any. Yummy!
Thanks Kathy. I was hoping that some people would at least have heard of it 😉
Hi Inger, isn’t it wonderful to make your own candy? This is great! Thanks for sharing and you have a great day ahead 🙂
I do enjoy making candy–and this recipe is extra special since it’s been passed down through the family! Thanks Ivy!
This looks so good. I have made divinity candy but it’s been a long time ago.
Don’t you love the classic recipes Freeda?