Combine sugar, 1˝ cup water
and lemon juice in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil
vigorously for 5 to 10 minutes, until the syrup reaches 240°F on a food
thermometer, or forms a soft ball when a bit is dropped into cold water. Turn
off the heat.
Using a blender, food
processor, or whisk, combine the cornstarch and cream of tartar, then gradually
add 3 cups of water, stirring vigorously to fully combine the ingredients and
prevent lumping. Transfer this mixture to a large saucepan, and bring to a boil
over medium heat, stirring constantly. If any lumps form, scoop them out of the
pan; don't try to break them up to make them smooth. It won't work.
Once the cornstarch mixture has
come to a boil, pour in the hot syrup in a thin, steady stream, stirring
constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for 1 to 2 hours, stirring
constantly, until the mixture has turned a pale gold. Turn off the heat. Stir in
flavouring to taste, and food colouring, if desired. Blend in the nuts, if
Using a flavourless oil,
lightly oil a 9" square baking pan, then line the pan with lightly oiled
baker's parchment. Pour the Lokum into the pan, then tilt it to distribute the
mixture evenly. Wait until the Lokum has cooled completely before covering the
pan with plastic wrap. Do not allow the plastic to touch the surface of the Lokum,
or it will stick mercilessly.
Let the Lokum rest for at least
two days before cutting into 1" wide strips with an oiled kitchen knife
(not serrated). Clean and oil the knife after every cut. If the Lokum is too
gummy to cut, let it age longer. Lay out the strips on a lightly oiled tray and
let them rest for another day or two before cutting into small squares.
Combine one-half cup each of
cornstarch and powdered sugar in a tightly covered container. Put 2 or 3 squares
of Lokum into the container, cover and shake to coat them with the mixture.
Store in an airtight container, separating the layers with parchment, waxed
paper or doilies.