In my Valentine’s Day Gift Guide, I talked a bit about how the hun buns and I like to stay in for Valentine’s day and spend some time in the kitchen together. Our first Valentine’s we tried making chocolate covered strawberries and had a blast making something that turned out better than we both expected. Chocolate covered strawberries are quite an easy dessert to make but there are a few tips and tricks to follow to guarantee smooth, luscious chocolate, sweet berries, and a wonderful presentation. These are perfect for Valentine’s Day or any other time you want to make someone feel special. And hey, if you use dark chocolate, I’m going to go ahead and allow these to be called healthy too. So grab your chocolate, berries, and someone special and let’s do this thang.
1. Pick and Prep
Picking good strawberries is the first key to making great chocolate covered strawberries. Look for bright, red, firm berries with as little green as possible and no mushy spots. After washing the berries, dry them thoroughly as moisture is the enemy of chocolate and might result in gloppy chocolate or chocolate that slides right off the berry. If the berries have been refrigerated, allow them to come to room temperature before dipping. I also recommend leaving the leaves on your berries. You can certainly cut the tops and attempt to dip them using a toothpick or fork but I promise you it won’t be easy. That pop of green also looks nice in contrast with the red berries and chocolate.
2. Choose and Melt
Choose a high quality chocolate, something like Ghirardelli or better, for the best tasting results. Cheap chocolate really isn’t going to do anything for those sweet berries so it’s worth it to spend a few extra bucks on the good stuff. You can buy chocolate that is specifically made for dipping but I find that adding a tad bit of butter to my good quality chocolate gives the best taste and velvety texture. I like to add about 2t for every 8oz of chocolate but that step is totally optional.
You can melt your chocolate using a double boiler on the stove or right in the microwave. To use a double boiler, fill a medium pot with water and bring to a simmer. Place a metal bowl over the pot and add the chocolate (and butter if using). Stir constantly until melted. If using the microwave, put chocolate (and butter if using) into a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds. Remove and stir. Continue heating chocolate in 15 second intervals until melted, stirring in between. Be especially careful when melting white chocolate as it burns very easily. If by chance you do burn your chocolate (you’ll know-it will sieze up into a gross gritty blob), you can typically save it by introducing a small amount of fat to the burned chocolate and whisking it back together. Try adding a few teaspoons of oil such as coconut or grapeseed to recover your chocolate.
If you want to add some color to your white chocolate, do so just after melting using gel or paste food coloring.
3. Dip, Decorate, and Store
Dip the berries as far into the chocolate as you can without covering the leaves. For basic chocolate covered strawberries, dip and place on a Silpat or plastic wrap covered plate and allow to chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes to set chocolate. The Silpat or plastic wrap will allow you to easily peel the strawberries off the surface without cracking the chocolate layer.
If you want to get a little fancy with your chocolate covered strawberries you can add some great decorations as well. Add a simple chocolate drizzle using the same chocolate or chocolate in a contrasting color. I like to dip a fork into the chocolate and drizzle for a more haphazard look. You could also add some chocolate to a small plastic bag, snip a small piece of the corner, and drizzle that way for a more uniform look. That’s also a great way to decorate with more precise flourishes such as dots or hearts or even initials. You can even make those fancy “tuxedo” strawberries by dipping them in a base layer of white chocolate, allow to chill in the fridge for 10 minutes, and then re-dipping only the left and right sides into dark chocolate, leaving just a triangle of white chocolate in the center. Add some dark chocolate dots to the white center for buttons or even some triangles for a dapper bow tie.
If you want to top your berries with something like crushed nuts or sprinkles, add those right after you dip your berries into the chocolate and be sure to get a good thick base layer of chocolate. This will allow the chocolate to grab the toppings. Place in the fridge immediately to chill and set so the toppings don’t slide off.
Once the berries have been chilled long enough to set the chocolate, take them out of the fridge and store in an airtight container in a cool area. The strawberries are best served within a few hours of dipping though mine look decent up to 24 hours later. They are still tasty a day or two past that but you’ll notice that the strawberries will begin to shrink and pull away from the chocolate shell.
I hope these tips and tricks have given you the motivation to try out some chocolate covered strawberries on your own. You won’t be disappointed with the results and I guarantee you’ll have a great time making and decorating them. While they are great for Valentine’s Day, they are a wonderful treat to share with guests for any occasion and easy enough to whip up a few just for yourself for no reason at all.
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