So I have a confession to make, as much as we love all things about love, we don't really "do" Valentine's Day here. In fact, we kinda skip right over it. We don't do gifts or sappy love notes because we do those a lot the rest of the year! The only thing we tend to do around this time of year is Chocolate Dipped Strawberries! In fact, I am a bit of a specialist when it comes to making them, so my Valentine to you is a little tutorial on how to make the best gift ever, and then enjoy it!
To start, you need to gather a few tools- Colander, Baking Sheet, Parchment Paper (waxed paper will work too), a wooden spoon, a towel is handy, and if you are wanting to top your berries a few extra cups are handy & a sieve or flour sifter.
You'll need 1-2 pounds of fresh strawberries- I prefer organic
And at least one cup of chocolate chips- 1 cup does a single dipped batch of 12 average sized berries. If you want to do two dozen, I'd melt one cup, then melt another cup once that is done. Chocolate melts much better in smaller batches.
For toppings, some favorites are white chocolate, sprinkles, coconut, almond slivers, dark chocolate or cocoa powder.
First step is to sort through the berries and pick the largest ones. Red, round, firm are the best ones to dip. You want to be sure their stems are strong as well, as you will use the stems to dip the berries. (If you are planning on double dipping them, you'll need the strongest stems possible- or even long stemmed berries.)
Rinse the strawberries, then spread them out (without touching) and allow them to air dry.
Drying is an important step you cannot skip! Even a tiny bit of water could make your melted chocolate "seize" up.
So in addition to air drying- I use a cheesecloth towel and hand dry them also!
There are two ways to melt chocolate- via the stove over a very low heat or in the microwave at half heat. The key here is stirring a lot- and melting very slowly. s-l-o-w-l-y! Chocolate is easy to burn so you never want it to rise above 115 degrees. I did this batch in the microwave and we started with 30 seconds for two times, then went for 20 seconds at least two more times, then just 5 seconds to be sure it was all smooth.
To test the chocolate, all the lumps should be melted, and you should be able to do a small drizzle of chocolate, but then the end of the spoon starts to clump up a bit. If you find the chocolate drizzling constantly- almost runny- then you'll need to let it sit for a minute to cool and try again. (If your melted chocolate is too warm it will run off the strawberries and pool underneath them. It isn't harmful, but it isn't pretty!)
To dip the berries, grasp each one by the stem, and roll through the melted chocolate in a circular motion. It helps if you use your free hand to tip the measuring cup towards you, keeping the chocolate deepest.
Allow the excess chocolate to drip off, then set each berry on the parchment paper. Dip all berries, then if you wish to double dip them, allow them to sit for a few minutes before dipping again.
Air dry the chocolate dipped strawberries before storing them in the fridge.
If you wish to add cocoa powder or toppings to the berries, you'll need to do it before the chocolate sets. I always have my toppings ready and add them as soon as possible. The cocoa powder works best if you use a sifter. Sift the powder from a foot or so above the berries.
You can also melt a smaller batch of a contrasting chocolate and drizzle on the berries- melt this chocolate a little longer so it is thinner & drizzles well.
You can store these in the fridge for up to three days, and you should let them soften at room temperature for an hour before enjoying!
Hope this helps you make the best Valentine's gift ever!