Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lemon Drops

"'It certainly seems so,' said Dumbledore. 'We have much to be thankful for. Would you care for a lemon drop?'
'A what?'
'A lemon drop. They're a kind of Muggle sweet I'm rather fond of'" 
(Sorcerer's Stone, 10).

Dumbledore is such a fan of Lemon Drops that he uses their name as the password to his office in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. But the first mention of this delightful citrus sweet is on page 10 of Sorcerer's Stone; and it is our next food item to create!

At Honeydukes (at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter), Lemon Drops are a lovely lemon-shaped candy, coated with sour sugar. The recipe from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook creates a decidedly more Muggle interpretation of the sweet, and it is that recipe I will use for this, my first foray into candy-making.

You Will Need:
1/4 Cup Water
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
1 tsp Lemon Extract
(You will also need Parchment Paper and a Candy Thermometer)

1. Place a piece of parchment paper on a flat surface, to be used later. I don't recommend placing it on a baking sheet unless you trim the edges so it fits perfectly.
2. Combine the water, sugar, corn syrup, and cream of tartar in a SMALL saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly (with a metal utensil!) until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture begins to bubble. This will take a really long time. If sugar crystals form on the sides of the pan, wash them down with a pastry brush dipped in hot water.
3. Use a candy thermometer, and continue cooking the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 300 degrees F. Do not raise the heat of the burner much above medium, as the sugar will burn. Be patient, this step will take a long time, and the texture of the mixture will change several times while it cooks.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon extract. Be careful, because it will likely splutter and pop all over the place when you add this!
5. When the bubbling stops, use an oiled teaspoon to drop spoonfuls of the syrup onto the parchment sheet. This is a messy process, so don't be surprised if your Lemon Drops look more like Lemon Blobs connected by spidery threads :-)

You could try to make these in candy molds, as that would yield a much prettier product, but the candies stay pretty sticky, so I'm not sure how easily the mold would release. I also didn't oil my spoon after the first time, because the spoon was never really clean after that first dip in the syrup. One final note: try to work quickly, as the syrup will slowly start to harden as soon as it is removed from the heat, and eventually will be one giant Lemon Drop in the bottom of your pan (fill the pan with boiling water for awhile and it will come out). 

To store your Lemon Drops, place them in a box or tin between layers of parchment paper and Enjoy!

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