So my younger brother is getting married, and my mom has been practicing some recipes to make for the reception. One of these is a recipe for lemon bars my younger sister brought home from school. I have to say this recipe is WONDERFUL and I quite enjoyed it. Especially the bit about how easy they are to make.
But really – the story here is in the orange peel. In an attempt to appear decorative and fancy, we tried and tried to think of good ways to top the lemon bars last time I visited my family. We tried candied lemon peel, candy lemon slices, and making butterflies out of lemon slices. Nothing was quite right. And then my trip to visit my family ended, and home I came (armed with my sister’s lemon bar recipe).
I made the lemon bars almost immediately after coming home (tells you how much I liked them!) and started out on a quest to figure out how to properly curl orange peels, because I LOVE that look and figured it would look nice on top of the lemon bars, adding some color and interest. I was certain there was some secret to curling citrus peel, and so I set about trying to find out just what that secret might be. But nobody was telling. I was frustrated. Finally, I found a comment on a web site somewhere out there in the wide world of the internet that led me to believe there really was no secret to curling the peel – you just twist it and, magically, it stays!
In a bit of disbelief and irritation (I’d spent a very good long time looking for this elusive secret) I went to my fruit bowl and pulled out an orange. I used my citrus scoring tool (also possibly referred to as a channel knife though this I don’t know for sure) and scored some nice lines of orange peel. I dutifully twisted them and placed them on and around my lemon bars. They looked lovely. I was impressed, but not yet convinced. Would they stay?
After we ate the lemon bars (trust me – that didn’t take long, and I think I put down at least half the pan by myself before anyone else even got a shot at them) I put the orange twists into a bowl and stored them in my fridge. Now this must have been 2 weeks ago or something and I just pulled them out to check them – they are still curled! Amazing, isn’t it? Apparently it’s the juice in the citrus that makes them stay in shape when you twist them. Color me amazed.
As a side note, I also used a microplane grater and grated a bit of orange peel onto the tops of the lemon bars for color. My kids tried to pick it off and eat it (they thought it was sprinkles) and decided then and there they don’t like lemon bars. Once I convinced them to just take a bite of the bar with the grated orange on top, they changed their stories. Really, when you don’t eat it plain, you can’t taste the bitter peel at all on top of the bars – it’s just a beautiful addition in color.
One last note – if you plan to eat the orange that you’re scoring, better peel it pretty fast after you score it. I left the scored orange in my fruit bowl (on my counter) and tried to use it a few days later and nearly broke my nails and cut my fingers open trying to get the peel off! It had all dried up. So a word to the wise – peel the orange and store the sections in the fridge until somebody wants to eat them!