On the Menu: Strawberries
Chocolate covered strawberries may be the iconic treat for Valentine’s Day. The red, heart-shaped strawberries surrounded by rich, velvety chocolate are a scrumptious treat to share with your love. But if you have ever tried to make them, you know that what looks like a simple dessert can quickly turn into a lumpy nightmare. You get one or two dipped, and then the chocolate seizes and all that is left is a solidified, strange, lumpy mess that is anything but a treat.
There is romantic candlelight at the end of the lumpy chocolate tunnel! With a few simple steps, you can have beautiful chocolate covered strawberries that will be the perfect ending to your romantic celebration.
Tips for Perfectly Dipped Strawberries
Be Prepared: Chocolate covered strawberries aren’t difficult to make: there aren’t many ingredients or steps, but working with chocolate can be a drippy mess. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place it close to where you will be dipping. Also, clear out space in the refrigerator in advance for the berries to sit and chill after dipping and decorating.
Choose the Best: With two main flavors, chocolate and strawberries, you want to use the best quality ingredients you can afford. You want the strawberries sweet, so choose ripe berries and check each one carefully for soft spots. Choose a chocolate you enjoy. If you don’t like the taste of the chocolate, you won’t like the final product.
Do the Prep: Make sure the strawberries are clean but keep the leaves and stems, if present, on the berries as they make dipping easier. Make sure each berry is bone dry. It only takes a few stray drops of water to turn smooth, velvety, melted chocolate into a thick, lumpy, seized mess. Finally, make sure your strawberries are at room temperature. Chocolate adheres more easily to room temperature berries. If they are chilled condensation will appear on the surface as they warm. Remember, water and chocolate don’t mix.
Melt the Chocolate: Add 2 tablespoons of butter for every 8 ounces of chocolate. Butter helps create a perfect “dip-able” chocolate and adds an extra, creamy touch. “Dipping Chocolate” is available at most stores, but we find that it creates a brittle shell instead of the creamy coating because the candy is blended with shortening. Use a double boiler and lower heat to melt the chocolate. Try to keep the water at a low simmer. High heat may scorch the chocolate or rapidly boiling water may burp up into the melting candy, which will mean disposing of that chocolate and starting over.
Dip and Shake: Grasp the berry by the leaves and dip as far into the chocolate as you can. Turn the point up and shake to help the chocolate move into any bare areas. Set the dipped berry on the parchment lined baking sheet. If desired dip a second time once the first coating sets at room temperature. When using two different colors of chocolate, leave a bit of the first layer showing for that “professional” touch.
Dress It Up: After dipping in chocolate, dip in nuts, coconut, candy hearts, or sprinkles before placing on the baking sheet to set. After the chocolate sets, use a small piping bag and tip to drizzle, monogram and otherwise decorate your strawberries. Chill the finished berries in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to let the chocolate completely set.
Chocolate doesn’t like to stay cold, it will turn white and chalky. Once completely set, store in an air tight container in a cool place.