Monday, February 27, 2012

The Ultimate Strawberry

Costco sucked me in, once again. Seeing these gorgeous strawberries in the middle of winter brings memories of warmer months and having amazing strawberries always available. So I fell for it and bought this huge container.

With lots of options- strawberry cobbler, lemon strawberry bars, strawberries and milk, strawberry lemonade and even eating them plain-I was stumped as what to make.

I even searched through my favorites, lots of options, all sounding good but in a few cases I was out of some ingredients (called for 4 eggs and I only had 3, etc). So I decided chocolate dipped was the answer for today.

I enlisted the help of a cute girl, who just woke up from a nap, notice the sleepy face. And we prepped our strawberries.

We carefully washed them and placed them to dry.

There is the on going debate with strawberries- stem or not? I see both point of views and I do it both ways depending on the event. If they are eating on the go I take off the stem, no one wants to carry a stem. But also think its great for something to hold on to while eating, and even more while dipping. So your choice!

We lined a cookie sheet with parchment, best thing ever invented. Makes clean up a breeze and nothing sticks to it. Just use and toss when done. Brilliant.

After we washed and hand dried the berries, (if you plan ahead you can let them air dry, but I never have time to let them dry. Just make sure to get all the water off, chocolate and water are enemies and really don't play well together), place them on the cookie sheet spaced out enough that you leave room for the dipping.

While you are drying you can start melting your chocolate. The microwave works just fine, 1/2 power for one minute then stir. Do that again. Keep repeating and stirring until about 90% melted. After that you can stir it together until the rest of he chocolate is melted.

I decided to do an experiment.

At Gygi's I'm shocked at how many questions come up regarding making strawberries. At least a couple times a day, and the bigger surprise to me is what chocolate they have used and plan on buying. "I usually use chocolate chips and melt them down, then usually add some vegetable oil to thin it out."-is the usual comment. I tend to cringe but be very nice about it. And if that is the way you do it, and it works for you, kudos to you. I can't figure it out!

But I wanted to attempt it again. So I melted some dark chocolate chunks, same thing as the cookie chips, melted it the same way as above except after melting, it was really thick.

When dipping my spatula in the white it poured right off, in the dark it stuck right to the spoon and came off in one chunk. (sorry I forgot to take a picture, my helper was on the other side making a mess). So I added a little vegetable oil and stirred. Added some more, it did thin it out but still didn't have the viscosity that I wanted (big word I know, that's one word I learned when becoming a chocolatier haha, more on that another day).

So we started dipping. I like to go about. 3/4th of the way up the berry. Saige likes to do about 1/3. It's totally your call and there is no right or wrong.

After you dipped it in, lift out and and gently shake the excess off. Make sure not to go to crazy, chocolate will go everywhere and you could break off the stem. So be careful.

If you prefer, shake it above your finger. It is a good way to snack on the chocolate.

After you have gotten the excess off gently place back on the parchment to dry. Can you see the difference between these? The one on the left was the first one done, can you see that it's not wet looking, and starts to develop a shell ? That's a good thing.

After they have completely hardened, you can than swirl a different color over or dip again. I highly recommend waiting in between to make sure the chocolates don't run. Again, your call.

So the strawberry above was dipped with the dark chunks, can you see the difference? It's much thicker, wetter, and looks like hot fudge. It's not really the look I was going for so I dipped about 5 and decided to go back to my way. It's so much easier and tastes and looks better.

Enter Peters chocolate. This thing rests in our cupboards, all 10 pounds in its glory. It was bought by Matt for a school project he did and now it calls my name occasionally (okay okay, truth be told, I'm not much of a chocolate lover. But on occasion I do a little). So I cut off a little, tempered it in the microwave and started dipping.

Look how pretty they turned out. Keep in mind they are still wet here, but they are thinner and smoother and perfect.

Even a few got some heart sprinkles. Saige was a great helper and honestly did a lot of these. I helped with the drizzle. Let them set up before taking them off the parchment. They really will set up quickly. Your house temperature may affect it, so if your room is pretty warm stick them outside for a sec, or in the fridge. Just for a bit, it will set up fast.

Loaded them up on a cake stand, and we took them to Nana and Gramps' for a wonderful Sunday dinner.

This big guy still looks good, I shouldn't discount him. Just different than what I am use to.

After doing this I think everyone can come to the conclusion that Chocolate dipped strawberries are actually really quite easy, like really easy. My darling 5 year old did a lot of these, and I would like to think that she is this culinary genius, but this might not be the task for that. You can do it, its fun, easy, and everyone will think that you are amazing, really. So the biggest difference that I know will help you out is THE RIGHT CHOCOLATE FOR THE RIGHT TASK!!! That's it. Use what is made for the task and it will make such a difference.

This is what I used, and recommend.
White Callebaut Snaps
Milk Callebaut Snaps
Dark Callebaut Snaps
or if you are feeling super chocolatey you can use the
Peter's Ultra Milk. (it does take some extra steps, but it's a different quality from the snaps)

We dipped about 50 strawberries and used about 1 cup of each chocolate. So you really don't need a lot. You can even go back and do a double or even triple dip of chocolate after each layer dries.

So I hope I helped, maybe taught you a thing or two. I would love, please please please, to hear how you have done it!! So please share!!


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