Hand-Dipped Chocolate Strawberries

Hand-Dipped Strawberries

Photographer Bill Brady

Of course you can buy a box of candy, but where’s the love in that?  These hand-dipped chocolate strawberries proclaim love with their voluptuous coating and perfect strawberries and they can be created in an hour. The procedure may look long because I’ve provided detailed, can’t-fail directions but notice there are only two ingredients. Of course, you can use white chocolate or milk chocolate and you can roll them in nuts, but this is the way I like them best, simple and luscious.

Ingredients

1 lb. fresh strawberries (preferably with stems)

16 oz. high quality dark chocolate* in wafer form or chopped into small pieces

Procedure

1. Gently rinse strawberries.  If you have a hair dryer with a no heat setting, use it the dry the strawberries. Lay them out on a towel and move them around as you dry them.  This technique works perfectly.  Otherwise, just pat them dry gently with an absorbent cloth.  They must be perfectly dry.

2. Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler.  I improvise a double boiler by placing a pan that fits inside a larger pan but does not touch the bottom.  Fill the bottom pan with just enough water so that it doesn’t touch the upper pan.  Bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat.  Place chocolate in the upper pan.

3. The chocolate will melt.  Give it time and stir from time to time. Let it reach a temperature of 88 degrees.**

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon sheet.  Set aside.

5. Take the pan of melted chocolate out of the larger pan and, holding each strawberry by the stem, dip it into the chocolate. Roll it around so that the strawberry is nicely covered. Hold it over the pan until it stops dripping.  You can use a spoon to smooth the bottom.  Set it on the parchment paper.  If the chocolate is still dripping, you will wind up with a “foot” on the strawberry.  Not good.***

6. The chocolate will set if placed in a cool area.  You can place the baking sheet in the refrigerator but only long enough for the chocolate to set.  Left in the refrigerator the chocolate will take on an opaque finish instead of the glossy color you want.

* I order chocolate online from World Wide Chocolate http://www.worldwidechocolate.com/?gclid=CObR0d-_sLgCFcyj4Aod-DkAdA  They offer gourmet chocolate at discount prices.

** If you wish to temper the chocolate for the most professional look, directions can be found at

http://candy.about.com/od/candybasics/ht/temperchoc.htm

***Should you have leftover chocolate, toss in some coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans and spoon out clusters.  They, too, will set up on parchment paper.

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Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!

Chocoholic Heaven: Chocolate Mousse

Is there a more romantic dessert than chocolate mousse?  Simple, yet elegant.  The quintessence of velvety richness.  Topped perhaps with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and a few chocolate shavings.  However, it can certainly stand on its own.  Many identify Julia Child’s chocolate mousse as the classic version and true, it has a unique mouthfeel that is airy, almost foamy.  However, it uses eggs that are never cooked and, even though there is only a tiny chance of salmonella, I prefer a safer version that is rich and velvety.

There are just a few ingredients so the quality of the chocolate plays an important role in the outcome. Also, I suggest a bittersweet or semisweet chocolate containing between 50 and 60% cacao.  A higher percentage will produce a drier result.  Be sure to serve the mousse in pretty dessert goblets. And ladies, if you have ever doubted that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, you’ve never served him chocolate mousse.

Ingredients (8 servings)

2 cups heavy cream

4 yolks from large eggs

3 T superfine sugar

1 t pure vanilla extract

7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted

Directions

1. In a small saucepan heat 2/3 cup cream just until it starts to steam.

2. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl.

3. Slowly add half of the hot cream to the egg yolk mixture until thoroughly combined.

4. Add the warm egg-cream back into the hot cream in the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 165 on a digital thermometer.

5. Off heat, stir in the vanilla and melted chocolate.

6.  Chill thoroughly.

7. Whip remaining 1 1/3 cups cream in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form.

8. Stir about 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate custard and then gently fold in the remainder until no streaks appear.  Serve chilled.

(Adapted from a recipe by Rebecca Franklin)

Chocolate Reveries

by Victor Ribaudo

Some of my fondest gastronomic memories involve chocolate.  I’d venture to guess that I’m not alone here.  What is it about chocolate that causes our hearts to skip a beat when it’s presented to us in its many sumptuous forms?  Nay . . . even the thought of chocolate for some can trigger and inner longing that may lead to heady, euphoric ecstasy – causing faintness of breath!  OK, maybe I exaggerate, as I am wont to do.  (After all, I am Italian.  It’s genetic.)  The point is chocolate to most of us is a luxury we cannot do without.  I’m in that league.

When I was a child, my grandmother often made me chocolate sandwiches.  Yes, you read correctly.  She’d take crusty Italian bread, toast it in the oven, and then sandwich a chocolate bar in between the slices.  She’d press it with her hands, and the heat from the toasted bread sufficiently softened the chocolate bar to a silky consistency.  I was in heaven.  And I wanted more of it.  She also prepared something called cuccia for me on St. Lucy’s Day (December 13th).  This was a pudding made from cooked wheat berries, milk, candied fruit and chocolate.  Oh yes, it was as good as it sounds.  There were usually lots of wheat berries left over.  These were served to me the rest of the week for breakfast, swimming in warm chocolate milk.  Beats cold cereal any day.  Of course, I was often treated to the chocolate candies, cakes and brownies every kid begs for at the supermarket.  What can I say . . . they spoiled me!

At Easter . . . well, is there anything more heartwarming than a chocolate bunny?  My Mom procured the best, of course, from a chocolatier shoppe on 86th Street in Brooklyn.  The ears were solid, and so they were my preference.  And let’s not forget the chocolate drives at school.  My aunts and uncles would buy boxes of those bars from me, only to hand them right back for my sister and me to enjoy.  I especially loved the smell that wafted from the boxes as I opened them.  Those bars of chocolate were ridiculously delicious – melt-in-your-mouth velvetiness and studded with tons of roasted almonds to boot.  Amazing!

So you see, I was predestined to love chocolate.  Naturally, as my culinary tastes grew more sophisticated, I searched for even more heightened chocolate experiences.  Not hard to find.  Every fine restaurant has at least two chocolate creations on the dessert menu.  My first foray into that world began with chocolate mousse.  (Please check out Phyllis’ recipe above (it’s outstanding.)  Then I was enamored by the molten chocolate cake.  Who could resist that hot chocolate lava oozing from a petite cake.  Looks innocent until your fork breaks the crust. Then watch out!  Black Forest Cake also became an uncontrollable passion for me.  After all, chocolate and cherries were destined to fall in love.

And so it goes.  Double, triple, quadruple chocolate cakes and pastries…love them all.  Hot or cold chocolate puddings…bring them on.  Chocolate covered donuts…hot fudge sundaes…chocolate chip cookies…chocolate dipped strawberries…chocolate liqueurs.  Can’t get enough of them.  Extravagant?  By all means.  I mean, we must live to eat.  That’s my motto.

Want someone to fall in love with you?  Bake something chocolaty for them.  If the recipe calls for hard baker’s chocolate, be sure to melt it in a double boiler. Easy.  Just place a mixing bowl over simmering water, and stir continuously until the desired consistency is achieved.  Then you’re good to go with whatever recipe you have on hand.  Watch out though;  it’s intoxicating.  The person you serve it to might take this as a proposal of marriage.  The rest is up to you.

Photographer Bill Brady
Written by Victor Ribaudo
Recipe by Phyllis Kirigin
Food Stylist BrianPreston Campbell
Blog syndicated at the datingsymbol.com

  1. Chocolate … in all it’s glory! Fantastic photos and lovely memories!
    Debbie :-)

  2. I love your pictures with all of the light. And I also love your chocolate mousse recipe, keep up the great work!!
    Charlie, 12 year old food blogger

  3. carine says:

    Oh…chocolate…Glorious chocolate….You made my day…thanks~

  4. Beautiful photos. I have a hankering for some chocolate now.

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