Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries

I’ve always wanted to try making dark chocolate dipped strawberries. I think they’re the perfect dessert, healthy and satisfying. Dark chocolate, in moderation of course, is actually good for you and is loaded with antioxidants and fresh strawberries are… well fabulous, and if you can find them organic, even better.

The first thing I read about this process is that you need to know how to temper the chocolate before dipping the strawberries. Tempering is a process of heating and cooling chocolate to form stable crystals. These crystals then assure that the chocolate will be firm at room temperature. For a more complex understanding of tempered chocolate Wikipedia has a good scientific explanation of tempering on it’s chocolate entry.

I wanted to understand tempering better so I went to a demonstration from a trained dessert chef on how to temper chocolate. It took about a 30 minutes to temper the chocolate and while I watched I kept thinking to myself, “my readers are not going to want to do this”. She started with a pound and a half of chocolate (way more than I want to spend on quality dark chocolate) and used all kinds of fancy tools that the home cook wouldn’t have, including a large slab of marble. I had none of the tools she used and although I was tempted to run out and buy them and try the process myself, I knew that was silly and there had to be a simpler way.

This led me to the next part of this process. I did quite a bit of reading on the subject of tempering chocolate and found lots of advice.   I settled on a process of tempering the chocolate called seeding. I will go over the steps and give a few hints but before I start you need to know, even if it doesn’t work, you can chill the strawberries and they will still taste great and your guests will never know the difference. But, if you can successfully temper the chocolate they will look beautiful and you will earn bragging rights.

strawberries in basket

You will need a quart of fresh strawberries. For the freshest strawberries I recommend that you pick them yourself. Pick them with the stems still on, that will make it easier for dipping and eating. Your chocolate should also be quality. I use 77% dark chocolate bars from the local chocolate maker. I think the darker the chocolate the better.  If it is too sweet the strawberries might taste bitter. You can do this with two bars (I successfully tempered with only two bars) but the more you have the easier it is to do because the chocolate will heat slower and cool slower.

Before you melt your chocolate, wash the strawberries and dry them thoroughly. I’m serious; make sure they are bone dry. Chocolate and water will just be trouble.

temper-8-150x150Tempering the Chocolate:

  1. Break your chocolate into pieces and slowly melt about 2/3 of it in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water. When the chocolate is just about melted I pull the pan off the burner to slow the heating process a little. Once it’s melted, check the temperature. For dark chocolate you want around 115 degrees F. Do not over heat! Remove it from the saucepan and wipe the moisture off the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Stir the melted chocolate with a rubber spatula, and stir like your life depends on it. As you stir, add the rest of the chocolate pieces bit by bit. Add some, let it melt, add some more. And keep stirring! The more it’s agitated, the nice-n-shinier it’ll be. For dark chocolate, you want to get it down to about 88°F.
  3. Once the chocolate is close to the desired temperature (a degree or two above is fine) you’ll want to test it. Take a metal knife or spoon and dip it in the chocolate and let it sit for a couple of minutes. If the chocolate is tempered it will be hard on the outside, not tacky to the touch, a little glossy and not streaky or blotchy. If that is how it looks you have just tempered chocolate!
  4. Now start dipping your strawberries. After you dip the strawberry, use the side of the bowl to carefully wipe excess chocolate off part of the strawberry (the side of the strawberry you will set it down on). This is so you won’t have too much chocolate or it will just pool up around the strawberry as it sits and cause you to have what is called a large “foot” around the strawberry. Lay them out on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper to harden.

temper-2

If the chocolate doesn’t temper, don’t worry about it. Dip your strawberries anyway and place them in the refrigerator.

 

I did this process when the chocolate tempered and when it did not. Both batches tasted perfect and to be honest with you other than being incredibly proud of tempering chocolate I couldn’t see a huge difference. The batch that didn’t temper was less glossy, got a little tacky when it warmed and had less of a crunch when you bit into it. Unless you are serving a tempering expert, no one will know. It’s still an impressive and tasty desert.

temper-11-300x206 The strawberry on the right was dipped in the chocolate before the chocolate was in temper. The chocolate coating is tacky and will harden after it is placed in the refrigerator. The one on the left was dipped after the chocolate was tempered and hardened minutes after dipping.

strawberries dippedIf you are looking for something to serve with the strawberries try this fresh mint whipped cream. It’s light and the touch of mint flavor is the perfect compliment to the chocolate.

Mint whipped cream

mint strawberry dippingIngredients

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled

Directions:

  1. Stir 1/3 cup mint, sugar, and 3 tablespoons water in small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves.
  2. Cook just until bubbles appear. Cover and remove from heat; let steep 30 minutes.
  3. Strain syrup into large bowl, pressing on mint. Cool completely.
  4. Add 1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream to syrup and beat until firm peaks form.
Advertisements

Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

“Strawberries and rhubarb are the epitome of spring cooking, and I love them equally. This compote — which can be served hot, warm, or chilled — shows how well they work together. Olive oil gives the cake a moist, pound-cake-like texture, and lemon, orange, and rosemary pro­vide fragrant flavors and aromas. Use a fruity extra-virgin olive oil for the best results.” — Curtis Stone

From: What’s For Dinner? Delicious Recipes for a Busy Life © 2013 by Curtis Stone Buy the book

TOTAL TIME: 0:50
PREP: 0:15
COOK: 0:35
LEVEL: MODERATE
SERVES: 8

INGREDIENTS

CAKE
  • Nonstick olive oil cooking spray
  • 1½ c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1½ minced fresh rosemary
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ c. whole milk
  • ¾ c. extra-virgin olive oil
COMPOTE
  • 12 oz. slender rhubarb
  • 1 lb. fresh strawberries
  • ¾ c. granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cake: Position a rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick olive oil cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper and spray paper with nonstick olive oil spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and rosemary. Add orange and lemon zest, then rub mixture between your fingertips until it is moist and fragrant. Add eggs and, using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes, or until pale and thick. Beat in milk. Gradually beat in olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture just until blended. Spread batter in pan.
  4. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out with moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pan on a wire cake rack for 15 minutes, then invert cake onto rack and remove and discard paper. Invert cake, right side up, onto a cake plate.
  5. Compote: Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, bring rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often. Continue to cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until juices thicken slightly and rhubarb is falling apart. Let cool.
  6. Sift confectioners’ sugar over cake. Cut cake into wedges, place on dessert plates, and spoon compote on top. Drizzle a little olive oil around cake and serve.

Bittersweet Chocolate Basil Tart with Honey Grapefruit Sauce

The sauce is a zesty complement to the tart’s rich chocolate filling.

 

LEVEL: MODERATE
SERVES: 20

INGREDIENTS

TART SHELL:
  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • ¼ c. granulated sugar
  • 1¼ c. cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 egg
FILLING:
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • ⅓ c. whole milk
  • ½ c. finely shredded basil leaves
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 egg
GARNISH:
  • confectioners’ sugar
  • Fresh basil sprig
SAUCE:
  • 3 pink grapefruits
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 1½ tsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp. water

DIRECTIONS

  1. To make tart shell: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low speed, add flour and egg in two parts and beat just until combined. Shape dough into a disc, wrap in waxed paper, and chill 1 to 24 hours. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness. Transfer to a 9-inch tart pan, press in sides and bottom, and trim any excess dough around edges. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover dough with a large piece of foil and weigh down with uncooked rice or beans. Bake 20 minutes, remove foil and beans, and bake 10 minutes longer, or until light golden brown. Cool on a rack.
  2. To make filling, preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring cream, milk, and basil just to a boil. Remove pan from heat, cover, and steep 10 minutes.
  3. Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour cream mixture through a strainer over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Let cool 10 minutes, then whisk in egg.
  4. Pour chocolate into tart shell and bake 20 minutes, or until filling is just beginning to set.
  5. Remove to a wire rack and let cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and garnish with basil sprig.
  6. Meanwhile, to make sauce: Chop grapefruit segments into small pieces, saving juice. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring fruit, reserved juices, and honey to a boil. Add cornstarch mixture and boil 1 minute, or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, and let cool to room temperature. Serve with tart (or with lemon cake).