Weather plays an integral role in working with chocolate as every candy maker knows. And I should know, too. Seems like such a simple thing, dipping strawberries in melted chocolate, and it is if you’re not working in a warm moist kitchen. Who knew that early May would bring such a record-breaking hot humid day? But there I was determined to made a little surprise gift for a few of my friends for Mother’s Day.
To get the down side out of the way, the chocolates won’t set up. You’ll have to make space in the fridge. Then, when you box and deliver them, you have to move fast. Tell your friends to refrigerate them and eat them soon. They don’t hold up well.
The up side is, of course, they’re utterly delicious and impressive, especially if you find long stemmed strawberries perfectly ripe and use a high quality chocolate. I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips. Finely chopped bulk chocolate works even better.
Now these gorgeous strawberries have to be washed! There’s the rub. How do you gently wash a strawberry and get it completely dry which you must in order to dip them without messing up your chocolate? This is my aha moment. Dip the strawberries shaking very gently in cold water, lay them out on a clean towel, pat dry (which won’t be dry enough) and then, using a hair blow dryer on a low setting and no heat , dry those babies to the bone. That’s the trick and remember where you heard it.
For 12 huge strawberries, I melted one pound of chocolate in the top of a double boiler, over simmering water, but not touching it. I “seeded” the chocolate, adding more pieces to cool it down to a good coating consistency. A little corn syrup can add glossiness. If it needs thinning out, add a little cooking oil and stir, stir, stir.
Just hold the strawberries by their stems and spoon the chocolate on letting any excess drip off. Otherwise, you’ll have “feet”. Lay them down on a silpat sheet or parchment paper on a cookie sheet. If your kitchen’s warm, refrigerate. When you’re ready to put your gift together, place each in a paper cup and into a bakery box. Tie up prettily and listen for oohs and aahs.
What do you do with that leftover melted chocolate? Use your imagination. I made peanut clusters.
Photos by Michael Kirigin