An important note about candy-making:
Before you begin, set up your work station. You will need the following:
-stainless steel saucepan
-silicon baking mat or oiled parchment paper (either one lining the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet)
-oiled kitchen shears
-another rimmed baking sheet filled with superfine or powdered sugar
Having the work area ready, and ingredients measured out before you begin, is highly recommended. Candy-making is an exacting process, and once you start, you have to be ready to move quickly to the next step.
Combine sugar, water, and cream of tartar in the stainless sauce pan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As it heats, put the candy thermometer in the mixture. Heat the mixture to exactly 300°F.
Once the mixture reaches 300°, immediately remove the pan from the heat, and pour the molten sugar-water misture into a rimmed baking sheet lined with a silicon baking mat or oiled parchment.
Add lemon extract, food coloring, and citric acid, and using an oiled spatula, stir to combine. (You may be thinking wouldn’t this be easier to stir if you kept it in the pot? Probably, but you run the risk of burning if you leave the mixture in a still-hot pot.)
In just a few moments, the candy will be cool enough to handle. Working quickly, roll the cooling candy to form a rope. Use the oiled shears to cut the candy into pieces, dropping each one into the pan of superfine or powdered coating sugar.
Once all the candy pieces are in the sugar, shake the baking sheet a few times to coat all the candies, and transfer each piece to a clean, flat surface to finish cooling and hardening.
Store cooled candies in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
*Gel food coloring can be a little tricky if you’ve never used it before. You may find that dipping a toothpick into the gel and then ‘swirling’ the pick through the liquid candy will give the best distribution of color. You can also use liquid food coloring, but it may be harder to get that bold yellow color. Alternatively, you can omit the coloring altogether – your lemon drop candies will be an opaque white color.