A dessert that is actually good for you? That would be dark chocolate dipped strawberries. You can indulge and not feel guilty. Chocolate dipped strawberries are the perfect treat for Valentine’s Day or any special occasion. Don’t spend a fortune for fancy berries off the internet; make your own, save a bundle and have fun.
Classic Flavors – Strawberries and Chocolate
Few can resist the classic flavor of strawberries dipped in chocolate. They’ve disappeared quickly at every event I’ve ever catered. I once made 500 for a large event. It was so much fun! A site to behold, platter after platter of gorgeous, dark chocolate dipped strawberries. A small plate for just you and your special date or dinner guests is just as impressive. The accolades you’ll receive are almost guaranteed.
When choosing strawberries, go for larger berries that have a nice green leaves or stem. That stem becomes your handle when you dip the berries. Choose organic strawberries if you can for the best flavor and reduced exposure to pesticides.
Wash the strawberries in cool water and allow them to dry thoroughly. Another option is to use a product called Eat Cleaner to wash them. It works great for fruit and vegetables and has become a mainstay in my kitchen.
The berries must be totally dry, because water and chocolate are enemies. If they are at all wet, the water will cause the chocolate to “seize” or become an unworkable, clumpy mess. Place the berries on a tray or plate lined with paper towels while you melt the chocolate and gather your decorations.
For health benefits, choose dark, bittersweet chocolate. Go for a 70% rating. That percentage is the amount of chocolate solids. The higher the percentage, the more bitter and the less sweet the chocolate is(and less sugar).
It you want to decorate with white chocolate, I prefer Valrhona. It has the best creamy taste in white chocolate. You can order these brands off the internet from Amazon or buy it at many higher end grocers, some cooking stores, and sometimes Cost Plus World Market.
Melting Chocolate – Get Ready To Dip
There are two ways to melt chocolate: double boiler or microwave. I prefer the double boiler method because it’s easier to control the viscosity of the chocolate. Either way, you want to melt chocolate slowly to minimize any graininess.
To set up a double boiler, place a large (4-5 quart or liter) saucepan over medium heat with a few inches of water. Bring to a strong simmer. Place a small to medium sized stainless steel bowl on top of the pan. It should fit just inside the pan, and the bottom of the pan should not touch the water. Turn the heat down to low.
Place chocolate in the bowl and melt slowly. Once the chocolate is almost smooth, turn off the heat and stir. It will become smooth. I find that the chocolate dips and clings the best when it is not too fluid. You will feel the right temperature.
Carefully holding the strawberry by the stem, dip the berry into the melted chocolate, rolling it around to coat evenly. Leave a little berry showing at the top. Allow excess chocolate to drip off, then turn the berry upside down for a few moments. Place the chocolate dipped berry on a parchment or wax paper covered plate or tray. I use quarter size rimmed baking sheets, an indispensible tool.
Decorating Your Strawberries – Optional
If you are going to decorate the berries, allow the chocolate to set for a minute, then sprinkle with decorations. Sprinkling works better than rolling as it’s easier to control the coverage. Sometimes you get too much when you roll them in the decorations. Do what works best for you. One good option is the Natures Colors naturally colored sugars from India Tree.
To decorate with white chocolate patterns, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. When fluid, drizzle the white chocolate with a fork and drag a toothpick through the white chocolate in the opposite direction. You can also use a small piping bag to create an kind of pattern you want.
Allow the berries to dry and set up completely. You can place them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. They will be the best if enjoyed the day they are made, or at the latest the next day.
Helpful Links and Good Information
How to fix seized chocolate, and tips for working with chocolate.
Chocosphere, an internet resource that is chocolate heaven! If you order chocolate in bulk, check out their website.
Information on Valrhona chocolate. buy it on Amazon
Dark chocolate is healthy chocolate article, from What’s Cooking America