How To Make Chocolate Covered Strawberries To Wow Your Valentine
Chocolate covered strawberries are simple in concept but complicated to make. But just in time for Valentine's Day, we've demystified the method for you.
It's hard to imagine Valentine's Day and not think of chocolate — it's been de rigueur for sweethearts to exchange chocolate on Valentine's Day since the 1840s. But, allegedly, it wasn't until the 1960s that a Chicago gourmet chocolatier gilded the sweet lily by creating chocolate covered strawberries, and they've been one of the most popular Valentine's Day treats since.
You can certainly buy chocolate covered strawberries, but if you're going to charm with chocolate, making your own hand-dipped chocolate covered strawberries can certainly win over your sweetheart — as long as you do it correctly. To help you out, we came up with a few tips on how to make homemade chocolate covered strawberries.
You can use standard semi-sweet chocolate chips, which are milk chocolate, but the higher the quality of the chocolate you use, the better your final product will be. Dark chocolate works best because the cocoa solids are uncut by milk and will harden well at room temperature. As a bonus, dark chocolate is vegan and dairy-free.
Melting the chocolate can be complicated or it can be simple — that is up to you — we'll cover both options. The one thing both methods have in common is that the chocolate should be finely chopped so that it melts fast.
The Simple Method(s)
The two simple methods both involve simply melting the chocolate by itself. The problem with this is that even when the chocolate has set, it will still be a little bit pliable, so you don't get a snap when you bite into it. The chocolate is will also have a dull-looking finish and is susceptible to "bloom." Bloom is when the cocoa butter doesn't crystalize correctly and the chocolate looks sort of dusty. That said, there's nothing wrong with the simple methods of melting the chocolate for your strawberries. They are as follows:
Melting Chocolate In The Microwave: Melted chocolate from the microwave works just fine, the key is to melt the chocolate in short increments of about 10 seconds on high in a microwave-safe bowl. After each 10-second blast of heat, stir the chocolate. Stop heating it when it's smooth and ready for dipping. Pro Tip: Make sure the bowl is deep so your strawberries get a good dunk.
Melting Chocolate On The Stovetop: To melt chocolate on the stovetop, you'll want to make a double boiler. Sounds complicated, but it's not: Just put a heat-safe bowl in a saucepan of simmering water with a dishcloth between the bowl and the pan. Set your chopped chocolate in the bowl and when it begins to melt, stir the chocolate. The goal of the boiling water is to keep the heat even and low, so that your chocolate doesn't burn.
The Extra-Effort Method: Tempering The Chocolate
Cocoa Butter: Tempering chocolate just means melting the chocolate with another component so that the results are both shiny and hard. Chocolatiers use special tempering machines to melt chocolate with cocoa butter at a temperature of about 90 degrees Fahrenheit to make the bonbons that fill those heart-shaped boxes every Valentine's Day. Once the strawberries are dipped in the tempered chocolate, the cocoa butter will start to crystallize and harden after about one minute, but it will need a few hours to set completely.
Seeding: You can also temper your chocolate with previously tempered chocolate; that's called "seeding." The process is similar to tempering with cocoa butter: You have to monitor the temperature of the chocolate carefully.
A lot of home cooks aren't going to go out and buying cocoa butter to temper chocolate, but if you still want that hard chocolate shell, you can melt your chocolate with paraffin wax. If you're dubious about edible wax, don't worry, it's completely safe and the chocolate still tastes great. Ohioans have been using it for decades to make peanut butter buckeye candies. The other options are to melt the chocolate with shortening or coconut oil. Those may not make the chocolate snappy but there won't be any bloom. The best part about all of these tempering shortcuts is that you don't have to worry about monitoring the temperature of the chocolate; you just have to make sure it's melted enough to coat the strawberries.
It's February. It's most definitely not strawberry season in most of the country so fresh strawberries might be hard to come by, but California and Florida ship out what they have. That means they're not going to be the highest quality, but they're available. In this case, you want to get fairly firm strawberries that are as red as you can find. If there is any white on the strawberries, that means they're not quite ripe — but you can use them. They'll probably dip nicely, but they won't have the greatest flavor. The strawberries should also have green caps (and stems if you can find them — this helps with the dipping, and also looks cute on the plate).
Working With Strawberries
Dry Thoroughly: Once you have your fruit picked out, make sure to rinse the strawberries and dry them thoroughly with a kitchen towel or a paper towel. You want very dry strawberries. Any moisture left behind will get between the strawberry and the chocolate which could either hasten the decomposition of the strawberry or cause a gap in the chocolate.
Dipping And Setting: Before you dip strawberries in the chocolate, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, wax paper or a silicone baking mat. This is where you'll place the chocolate strawberries to cool. Once the chocolate sets, the strawberries will release much more easily from the paper. Try to avoid refrigerating the strawberries. When they're refrigerated, they tend to sweat because they collect condensation. In short: Eat them as quickly as possible.
Storing Chocolate Covered Strawberries
If you don't finish the strawberries, you can store the rest of the strawberries in an airtight container and refrigerate them. Line the container with paper towels to absorb excess moisture.
Now that all the tips are out of the way, check out some of our most Yummed and most interesting chocolate covered strawberries recipes.