Monday, February 21, 2011

Valentines Day: Dessert

So even a week after the fact, I STILL want to share our Valentines Day dessert: chocolate covered strawberries!  It was a bit cliché, BUT they were sooo good!  This was my first attempt at chocolate covered strawberries and I was so excited to start.  They are very simple to make but come out looking elegant!  I choose to go with milk chocolate for dipping and red and pink chocolate for drizzling.  I wanted to keep the colors classic because it was Valentines Day after all.  To switch it up you could use white chocolate to dip, drizzle with any color you can imagine, or sprinkle toppings like crushed Oreos, coconut, or crushed hard caramel on top. 


2 large bags of chocolate chips
Fresh strawberries - my carton came with 20 strawberries
Toppings of your choice – I chose red and pink drizzle


Get a baking sheet out and line it with parchment paper.  Clear an area in your refrigerator or freezer for your strawberries to cool and harden.  Make sure to wash and dry your strawberries so all the excess moisture is off before you begin to dip.     

When your preperation work is done, use a double boiler to melt your chocolate.  I use an oven safe glass bowl over a boiling pot of water to create my double boiler. 

If you are using this method there are three important things to note: be absolutely sure your glass bowl is oven safe otherwise you will have a disaster on your hands and the heat could possible cause your bowl to crack or shatter; make sure that the boiling water is not touching the bottom of the bowl, this could also cause a disaster; and lastly make sure there is still water boiling in your pan and it hasn’t all evaporated.  The great thing about a double boiler is that it is the steam that is actually melting your chocolate so there is no chance of the chocolate becoming burned like it would be in the microwave or in a pan over direct heat. 

Put half your chocolate in your double boiler and melt.  I only put in half at a time because sometimes part the item you are dipping, in this case strawberries, will fall off into the batter and your hardened chocolate will have little bumps of the dipping pieces instead of being smooth. If you chocolate is thick you can add some Crisco or shortening to your chocolate to make it smoother as well.

When you are dipping the strawberries swirl them around in the chocolate to make sure they are all coated and after you have taken them out of the chocolate give them a shake to make sure the excess chocolate will come off the strawberry and will not pool on your parchment paper. 

You will notice that you still may have a little drizzle on the tip of your strawberry after shaking the excess chocolate off.  You can always turn it upside-down to seal the chocolate neatly. 

Then lay the strawberry on the parchment paper and repeat until all your strawberries are completed. If you wanted to sprinkle toppings on instead of drizzling them with chocolate sprinkle the toppings on now while the chocolate is still soft.

Then put your strawberries into the refrigerator or freezer to harden while you melt your drizzling chocolates in another double boiler.  If you choose to use the sprinkle topping method than your chocolates would be done once they were hardened.  I used red “Candy Dips” from Michaels to do my first drizzle of red.  After awhile of experimenting with drizzles on desserts I found that my old method of using white chocolate and food coloring to tint the chocolate just did not work and ruined the chocolate.  It became hard and crumbly, which was a far cry from the smooth and drizzly chocolate I was looking for.  I then discovered that there was a certain kind of colored chocolate that was meant for melting at Michaels, and I am sure you can find it other places.  The one I like to use are called “Candy Dips”, but it’s not just for candy you can use it on other kinds of desserts or chocolates.

After melting the Candy Dips, depending on the consistency of the chocolate, use a spoon or a fork to drizzle the chocolate over the strawberries.  If the chocolate is too thick you can always add shortening to make it smoother.  I use a fork when my chocolate is a little thicker, but for a thinner chocolate it falls through the fork right away so a spoon is best.  After you are done drizzling your first color, put the strawberries back in the refrigerator so the drizzle hardens.  If you skip this step and go onto the next drizzle right away you run the risk of having both of your drizzles run together instead of the perfect thin drizzle lines you initially created.

When your drizzle coat has hardened repeat the steps for your second drizzle.  For the pink color I just added some white chocolate to the red Candy Dips to create a pink.  The great thing about this is that Christmas has just passed and you might, as I did, have some leftover red drizzling chocolate from Christmas projects.  This is a great way to use that extra chocolate up!

After everything is hardened the next step is presentation!  No matter what you make if it isn’t presented well it will not have as awesome of an effect as you would if you paid attention to the look of your dish.  By this I don’t mean that you have to go all out with it, but make it at least a step up from serving it on the parchment paper pan.  I choose to put mine on a white square platter to make the strawberries pop.  Depending on what color you choose a different colored platter, serving tray, or two tiered dessert tray may be an option for you.  As always I am a fan of “work with what you have” so even a large plate will do for these.  If you wanted to get really into it, you could apply the second drizzle when the strawberries are already on your platter so you will get the drizzle on the platter for a fancier look.

The last thing to do is enjoy!  This is a great recipe for a romantic night at home, like we had, a cocktail party, movie night, or game night.  They are very easy to make, you can have them prepared in advance, and they are not messy to eat, so these strawberries make a great hors d'oeuvre for any gathering!

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