Decadent Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

So Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but this is a quick and easy dessert that is certain to get you out of any post-Valentine’s Day doghouse. That’s right, I’m talking chocolate dipped strawberries.

Now the purist in me has to point out that these are not actually -chocolate- dipped strawberries and a majority of what you can get in chocolate shops and online at various retailers are NOT CHOCOLATE EITHER. That is correct…these are made using confectionery chocolate or compound chocolate which contains partially hydrogenated oils. According to the FDA rules on such matters, any chocolate substance that contains these sorts of oils CANNOT be called “chocolate”. This also means that “white chocolate” is not considered chocolate at all. For the purpose of this demonstration though, I’ll just call it chocolate since that’s just simpler.

(Quick aside: it is not legal for products that are not chocolate to be marketed as such…next time you go to the store, check out how many chocolate products call themselves “chocolatey” or “cocoa flavored”.)

Supplies for Making Chocolate Dipped StrawberriesMaking chocolate dipped strawberries yourself is really very simple and inexpensive. Here’s a list of what you need: strawberries, chocolate (dark, milk, white, or a combination), double boiler (I use a metal bowl and a pot), spatula, parchment paper, cookie sheet.

When you choose your strawberries, make sure that they are fresh and not bruised. Strawberries stop ripening the moment they are picked, so if they are picked unripe, they’re not going to get any better. Be sure to avoid ones that have a lot of white around the shoulders of the berry since these are not going to be as sweet. Avoid berries that are REALLY big. Sure, they look cool, but these usually have a big hollow in the center since they have been growing too long and tend to go bad spectacularly fast. Look for strawberries that are all approximately the same size and if you can get them, try to get long stem berries. These are the cream of the crop so to speak, but they will cost you a little more. Also, whether you are buying from the store or from a roadside stand, check the bottom of the basket or clamshell…it’s an old trick to fill the bottom with smaller, inferior berries and a pretty layer of nice berries on the top.

Cleaning StrawberriesBefore you get started, clean your strawberries. NO!! Do NOT run them under water or rinse them in the sink!. First off, strawberries and water get along about as well as chocolate and water. They don’t. Any water left on your berries after washing will do two things; it will make your berry rot faster and it will make the chocolate seize and give it a crumbly, grainy texture. Decidedly not sexy. Instead, lightly wet a paper towel or a clean dish rag and gently wipe the berries. As you do this, check for any discolored spots, holes, and stuck flower petals. Discard any bad berries and remove all the debris.

Melting Chocolate for Chocolate Dipped StrawberriesIn terms of your chocolate choice, if you wish you can use couverture chocolate, but be forewarned. It can be difficult to work with since some kinds will need to be tempered and frankly, that can wreak all sorts of havoc if you haven’t had any experience with it previously. If I’m making these, I prefer to use confectionery chocolate since it’s simpler, tends to not bloom (those odd streaks and swirls that happen sometimes), is less expensive and easier to obtain and unless you have a chocolate snob around, no one can tell anyway. Does this mean you should use the cheapest confectionery chocolate you can find? No. It will be gross and taste grainy. Believe me. Aim for something actually designed for candy making like Wilton or Guittard. Skip the stuff you find on the top shelf at the grocery store. You’ll thank me later.

Melted Chocolate for Chocolate Dipped StrawberriesNow if you don’t have a double boiler (I don’t) or if you have no idea what one is, here’s how you set one up. Essentially, a double boiler is two pots that nest inside each other. You place the bottom one containing water on the stove burner and place the other on top containing whatever it is you wish to melt. Turn the burner up to boil the water in the bottom pot. This keeps you from burning whatever is in the top pot. I don’t have one, so instead of the top pot, I use a metal mixing bowl. It works just as fine. Two things to note, since this involves steam, it is easy to get burned if you aren’t paying attention and make sure you check the water level from time to time since it does evaporate from the boiling.

Once your chocolate is nice and smoothly melted, take the strawberry by the calyx (the leafy stuff) and dip it in the chocolate. You can coat the whole berry or leave some of the red showing, totally your choice. Give the berry a little shake and run the bottom gently against the side of the bowl to wipe off excess chocolate and place on the parchment lined cookie sheet. If you are going to add any sort of toppings that need to stick (nuts, coconut, sprinkles, mini-chocolate chips, candies etc) now is the time to do it. If you wait until later, the chocolate will have set up and the toppings won’t adhere. If you are planning to drizzle another chocolate over the top, make sure your berries are in a relatively straight row. It will make it easier later. Once you are all done dipping and decorating your berries, you can leave them at room temperature to set up or you can place them in the fridge to help them along a little. Don’t place them in the freezer though as the chocolate will contract and crack.

These will keep well for about 48 hours, so you can make them ahead of time for a party or dinner without having to worry.

Enjoy!!
~Karen