Chocolate strawberries aren't just delicious. They also make a beautiful and elegant dessert. Whether you're preparing a romantic treat for Valentine's Day, or making a classy, easy-to-eat dessert for a bridal shower, chocolate strawberries are awesome.
But gourmet chocolate covered strawberries can be pretty expensive. And that makes them seem like they must be really hard to make, but in fact, it's one of the easiest desserts you could possibly make.
Chocolate covered strawberries are just that – strawberries covered in chocolate. If you have chocolate and strawberries, you have just about everything you need. Still, there are a few tricks to making them. Nothing complicated or hard to do, but if you don't know them, it can make things a bit more difficult.
In this article, I'll go over everything you need to know to make perfect and delicious chocolate covered strawberries. First, I'll talk about picking and preparing the strawberries. Then, I'll go over how to prepare the chocolate. Finally, I'll talk about dipping the strawberries in chocolate and storing them.
Delicious chocolate strawberries start with delicious strawberries. Chocolate is really forgiving. Even if you don't have the best strawberries in the world, dipping them in chocolate makes up for a lot. But still, the better your strawberries, the better they'll be as chocolate covered strawberries. Here are some tips for picking and preparing your strawberries.
The very first step when you make chocolate covered strawberries is to pick out your strawberries. Here's what you should consider when selecting the berries.
Good, ripe berries have a pretty, bright red color.
If they're a dark red, they're overripe. Sometimes they'll even have mushy spots that you'd have to trim off, ruining the look of the strawberries.
If they have white or green spots, they're under-ripe and won't be nearly as sweet or flavorful.
Big strawberries are a bit easier to work with when you make chocolate covered strawberries. But remember that bigger isn't always better. Smaller ripe berries are always better than bigger, unripe ones.
A perfectly ripe strawberry shouldn't be either mushy or too hard. When you press on it, it should give just a little.
Ripe strawberries smell awesome. If you're in the grocery store and you smell strawberries, only to realize they're at the other end of the fruit section, odds are you'll get good berries. But if you hold them up to your nose and don't smell a thing, they're probably not very ripe.
Strawberries are best when they're in season. They don't have a very long shelf like, so if they have to be shipped, they're usually picked under-ripe to make sure they still look good when they get to your store.
Once you've picked out delicious, ripe strawberries, you need to get them ready for dipping. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
You should always wash strawberries before using them, but you want to be sure to treat them gently. Place them in a colander or just hold them gently, and run water over them.
There's no need to remove the stem or leaves. Chocolate strawberries actually look better with a bit of green! And the stem makes a nice little handle for dipping the berries.
Any bit of water can completely ruin your dipping chocolate, making it seize up and go all hard and lumpy. And chocolate won't stick to a wet berry. So you need to make sure your strawberries are completely dry.
Let the strawberries reach room temperature. If they're too cold, they might form little beads of condensation.
Dry the strawberries. Gently pat them dry with a paper towel or a dry kitchen towel.
Don't soak the strawberries in ice water to keep them fresh. They'll absorb too much water, and you won't be able to get them dry enough to coat.
Once your strawberries are picked out and prepared, you can start thinking about the chocolate!
Getting the chocolate right is the most important part about making chocolate strawberries. Depending on how you do it, though, there are a few factors that'll affect how your chocolate turns out, like how cold your house is.
The nice thing about making your own chocolate strawberries is that you get to choose just how to make them. You can pick the nicest strawberries, and you can also pick your very favorite kind of chocolate! Here's what you should consider when picking your chocolate.
You can use white, milk, semi-sweet, bitter-sweet or even dark chocolate. Just pick whatever you like best, and you're sure to end up with great strawberries. My favorite is semi-sweet, but try out different kinds and see what works for you.
Keep in mind that white and milk chocolate are a little bit more temperamental than the darker chocolates. They scorch more easily, so you have to be extra careful when melting the chocolate.
It's easier to melt little bits of chocolate than a big block. Chocolate chips are perfect, because they're all the same size so they melt evenly. But if you can't find the kind of chocolate you want in chip form, you can always chop up a big piece.
If you start with a higher quality chocolate, you'll end up with a higher quality chocolate strawberry. You don't have to spend lots of money on the chocolate though – just be sure to pick a brand that you love.
I'm a big fan of Ghirardelli chocolate, but Dove and lots of other brands are great, too.
The amount of chocolate you need depends on the amount of strawberries you have.
Depending on how big the strawberries are, you'll need between one to two cups of chopped chocolate or chocolate chip per pound of strawberries. And remember, any left over chocolate can turn into a delicious chocolate fondue!
Once you've picked out a chocolate, it's time to figure out how to melt it.
Tempering chocolate is a special and very cool cooking technique for melting chocolate. Tempered chocolate hardens to a firm, shiny finish that doesn't melt at room temperature, or get sticky in your hands. If you want to make chocolate strawberries that look professional, tempered chocolate is the key.
It's not hard to do, but it does take some explaining. If you decide to go for tempered chocolate, you can read this article on tempering chocolate for all the details.
Tempering chocolate is the key to getting really professional looking chocolate strawberries that don't melt at room temperature. But if you're kind of in a rush and have never tempered chocolate before, you might be thinking you want to skip the whole tempering thing.
And that's totally fine! You can get really good results without tempering. The difference is that your chocolate strawberries might not be as stable. You might have to keep them in the refrigerator, or the chocolate might get a little bit soft after being out for a while – but they'll still taste great.
If you decide you just want to melt the chocolate, plain and simple, here are a few guidelines to follow:
Chocolate needs to be melted very gently. If the chocolate gets too hot, it'll scorch, and then it'll get thick and lumpy and you won't be able to coat your strawberries with it. That means:
The best way to melt chocolate is over a double-boiler. Bring a pot of water to a simmer, take it off the heat. Then place the top pot, or a glass or stainless steel bowl over the water. The bowl shouldn't touch the water, or the chocolate won't melt evenly. Place the chocolate in the bowl and stir it till it's just melted.
You can also melt chocolate in the microwave. You have to be extra careful not to scorch it though. Heat it 30 seconds at a time on high heat, or 90 seconds at low, until the chips start to melt when you stir them. Add another 10 seconds or so at a time until the chocolate is smooth.
If you decide not to temper chocolate, then the best way to make sure it hardens properly is to not overheat the chocolate. Heat it until it's just barely melted, but still smooth. That way you don't destroy the tiny crystal structure that lets chocolate dry hard and shiny.
If the chocolate is too thick when it's just barely melted and smooth, you can add a little butter or shortening to thin it out. It changes the flavor a bit, but the chocolate will be much easier to work with and the strawberries will look smoother and prettier.
Add a teaspoon or two at a time until it's the right consistency to coat the strawberries evenly and smoothly.
Remember, when you're melting chocolate, it's really important not to let any water or moisture in the chocolate, or it'll seize up and get too hard and lumpy to use as coating.
A rubber spatula is the best choice for stirring chocolate. You can make sure it's completely dry, so that no moisture gets into the chocolate, and it's perfect for scraping the bowl so that the chocolate melts evenly.
Just melting the chocolate is a little bit easier than tempering. You might not get the perfect shiny finish that tempering gives, but depending on the heat and humidity of your kitchen you can still get beautiful results. And more importantly, delicious results!
Once you have your strawberries picked out, washed and dried, and your chocolate is melted, it's time to dip the berries! And nothing could be easier.
Here's what you do.
Cover a cookie sheet with a sheet of wax paper. You need a nice flat surface for your strawberries to dry on, and using a cookie sheet means you can move it out of the way if you need to.
Dip the strawberries in the chocolate. It's easiest if you hold them by the stem. Or, if they don't have a stem, you can stick a toothpick in the stem end and hold on to that.
If the chocolate is deep enough, you can just dip the strawberries in tip first, up to just below the leaves. This will give you a nice, straight, clean line where the chocolate ends.
If the chocolate is too shallow to fit a berry, dip the strawberry on its side, and turn it around until it's coated all around.
Chocolate covered strawberries look best if you leave a hint of red at the top.
Take the strawberry out of the chocolate and rotate it a bit to shake off the excess chocolate. You can also tap it very lightly against the side of your bowl. Just be sure not to damage the berry!
Lay the chocolate covered strawberry on the wax paper.
Start by placing the strawberries as far away from the chocolate as possible, then working your way closer. That way, if any chocolate drips while you're moving the strawberry, it won't get all over your other chocolate strawberries.
Repeat for all the strawberries.
Once you're done, give the chocolate time to set.
If you tempered the chocolate, it'll start to harden within a few minutes, and should be pretty much set within 30 minutes. You can leave them at room temperature.
If you didn't temper the chocolate, you can refrigerate the chocolate strawberries for 30 minutes to an hour, or until the chocolate sets.
Chocolate strawberries definitely do not have a long shelf life. Ideally, you should eat them the same day you make them, although you can store them for about a day if you really, really have to. How you store them depends on a few things.
And that's how to make chocolate covered strawberries. It's much easier to do than to explain, and so much more delicious!