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I am a citrus girl – all the way.  Some people can’t get enough chocolate, but I can’t get enough citrus.  If I have the choice of a slice of lemon meringue pie or a slice of chocolate cake, 95% of the time I will grab the lemon meringue pie and run.  It’s not that I don’t like chocolate, but I just really like lemon.

On the cover of this month’s Cookbook of the Month – Field Guide to Candy – there are several candies pictured.  On the bottom corner, there are some lemon drops.  When I first saw this cookbook, I knew that I wanted to make them, without even looking at the recipe!!

This is one of those candy recipes that looks a little bit scary when you first read through it.  It requires the use of a candy thermometer, you are working with hot candy, and you have to work fast.  But surprisingly, this was much easier to make that I was expecting!!  I wanted to shape the candies into their little lemon shape, but I don’t really know how you do that because by the time I had cut all the candies, they had already hardened so much that I couldn’t even try to shape them.  But in the end, I didn’t really mind because I kind of like their rustic look.  And as long as they taste good, it doesn’t matter what shape they are, right?  These little candies are the perfect amount of sour and sweet.  They are everything I was looking for!

Recipe Rating:  9 out of 10

Lemon Drops
from Field Guide to Candy

makes about 50 pieces

1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons citric acid (powdered or crystals)
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
few drops yellow food coloring
confectioners’ sugar for rolling

Coat a large pan or marble slab with cooking spray. Spray a pair of kitchen shears with the spray as well.

In a saucepan, combine the sugar with 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking until it reaches 300F, hard crack stage. Immediately remove from the heat.

Pour the mixture onto the prepared pan or marble slab. Sprinkle the citric acid, extract and food coloring on top. Using a bench scraper or a metal spatula, turn the mass on itself until the citric acid and food coloring has been distributed evenly.

Let the candy rest until it is cool enough to handle, but do not let it harden completely. (This will happen pretty quickly.)

Roll the candy into long ropes and cut into small pieces. Roll the pieces in confectioners’ sugar to coat before letting them completely cool on a baking sheet.

Check out more lemon goodness over at TidyMom!

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25 Responses to Cookbook of the Month Recipe – Lemon Drops

  1. patsyk says:

    Every once in awhile a lemon drop sounds so appealing! I would not have thought to make them myself… I do like the rustic look to the ones you made.

  2. hmm, i’ve never thought about making lemon drops myself. they look amazing, though – maybe it’s time to give it a try!

  3. Rosa says:

    They look great! Surely much better than the store-bought ones.



  4. Kristen says:

    oh my goodness – homemade lemon drops? I’m all over this! So delicous!

  5. They look wonderful! I love how many different candies and store bought treats you make at home!

  6. camie says:

    I was just telling my kids how my grandma always had a dish of lemon drops in her home. We’ll have to make these!!

  7. Audrey says:

    Like others I have never made lemon drops. These look wonderful and sound so easy to make. What a fun thing to make. Who would’ve thought?

  8. Joanne says:

    I am SO AMAZED that these can actually be made at home! I’m a citrus gal also…love these.

  9. Karla says:

    Yum!! I’ve always been so curious about making hard candy. curious AND terrified.

    You’ve inspired me to give it a try!

  10. grace says:

    what a fun thing to make at home! lemon drops from that little yellow movie theater box are one of my favorite treats–if i can procure some citric acid, i’ll definitely try my hand at these!

  11. I cant believe i missed this when you first posted it! I know that it was only a few days ago..but thats a few days that these havnt been in my life! i have everything needed already crazily, so im so excited about this one 🙂 will definitely give it a go someday soon, as i do am a citrus girl alllll the way!

  12. Joel says:

    One step that is left out in the instructions above is using the Cream of Tartar. Put it in with the sugar and water to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Recipe is really easy to make, and is really inexpensive as far as ingredients. One tip, depending on your taste for sour, add more or less of the citric acid. I am also going to experiment on replacing the citric acid with real lemon juice as I don’t like real sour candy.

  13. Sonia Hargreaves says:

    I tried these 3 times today. the first time I was left with one very hard lump of lemon sugar, as it cooled so quickly as I folded it in on itself. The second time, again a great lump of lemon sugar.
    The 3rd time I thought I would leave the syrup an little longer before folding it. It set so hard on my glass worktop saver that it took all of my time to chip it off. I give up now. I wasted so much sugar. So disappointed.

    • Deborah says:

      @Sonia Hargreaves, I’m not sure what happened – I wish I was more of a candy expert so I could help you out!

      • Sonia says:


        I followed the recipe to the letter. The only thing I can think off is the glass worktop protector that I poured it onto, as I don’t have a marble slab.
        Still disappointed and frustrated as I hate failing. ;(.

        • magnoliasouth says:

          @Sonia: Actually I read this earlier and was excited to try it, and thought maybe I would buy the original source. That is, until I read their dismal reviews. At present the most helpful review at Amazon says that all their recipes have failed. Several have said the same thing.

          The other thing is I wonder if people’s candy thermometer is off a bit. I don’t know, but just wanted to offer this as a FYI in that you’re not alone.

  14. Lori says:

    I find my citric acid in a nice bottle in the canning section of Wal-Mart! Much better than paying at the local candy store $8.99 fora 1/2 ounce bottle!!! The acid is in powdered form so it is versatile!!!

  15. Emily says:

    I’m wondering if you could add the acid and extract immediately after removing from heat, stir a few times, and then quickly drop the mixture by spoon onto an oiled sheet, to avoid the difficulty of turning and spreading the mass while it’s cooling. Not sure if that would help since you’d have to work so fast, but’s it’s a thought. Also, I found a recipe (http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/kelsey-nixon/homemade-pomegranate-lime-lollipops-recipe/index.html) with a tip for making your own molds from powdered sugar. I haven’t tried it yet but if it works it could be a great help for something like this!

  16. Robert Woodward says:

    I just finished making these for Christmas. I had to try a few different techniques. I never folded in the citric acid but stirred it in with the food coloring and lemon “oil” right off the heat. At 300 the lemon drops stayed soft long enough to make round drops and go back for reshaping if necessary. At 310 they got hard real fast and more people makes it happen. You can double the recipe without difficulty. The last batch I used granulated sugar and citric acid mix to coat the outside for an added for what one person said, “It’s like store bought!”

  17. magnoliasouth says:

    Has anyone tried replacing juice with water? I’ve seen a number of hard candy recipes around and all call for water. I’d like to splash in a bit more nutrition if possible.

    As a suggestion, Nadia you may want to add your 1/2 cup of water to the ingredients list. I’m wondering if the woman who had such trouble somehow missed that line, and well, it is an ingredients so….

    I can’t wait to try this!

  18. Someone Smith says:

    Worked perfectly the very first time even with a few adjustments.

    (1) Removed from heat when thermometer reached hard crack stage, I think this is 303.
    (2) Let cool until 290.
    (3) Quickly removed thermometer at 290 and gently stirred in flavoring and citric acid.
    (4) Used 3/4 of a teaspoon of flavoring rather than 1/2.

    I’m going to make another batch and increase both the lemon flavoring and citric acid for more flavor.

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