How to Dip Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
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As the calendar flips to June, many Ontarians look forward to visiting local farms, taking advantage of the nicer weather, and enjoying freshly picked berries. In Ontario, June is synonymous with 30 Days of Local—a time to celebrate local Ontario farmers and spotlight fresh Ontario produce.
One of my favourite ways to use fresh strawberries is to make chocolate-covered strawberries. Given their short shelf-life and the necessity for firm, unblemished strawberries, chocolate-covered strawberries can often be expensive to buy. Making your own at home is not only a fun activity—whether done solo or with a partner—it also makes this indulgent snack more affordable.
What better way to celebrate 30 Days of Local than by learning to create your own chocolate-covered strawberries?
How to Prepare Your Strawberries for Dipping
Wonder why chocolate-dipped strawberries don’t last as long as you'd wish? It's primarily due to the high water content in the berries and the condensation formed when storing chocolate in a humid, refrigerated environment. Mould feeds on moisture, which is one of the reasons that your dipped strawberries don't last long.
That being said, you can extend your chocolate-dipped strawberries' lifespan by adhering to this simple cleaning process. Thoroughly washing your strawberries before dipping them in chocolate helps eliminate excess moisture, dirt, and debris that can cause spoilage. By mitigating these factors, you can extend the shelf life of your delicious treats while keeping the berries firm and fresh.
Here's how to prepare your berries for dipping.
1. Soak your berries in a water, vinegar, and baking soda solution for 15 minutes.
A 4:1 water-to-white vinegar ratio is ideal. Add about 1 tsp of baking soda to the mixture, causing the water to fizz. This process aids in removing dirt and debris from the strawberries' surface, thereby prolonging their freshness.
2. Gently drain and rinse your strawberries.
After soaking the strawberries for 15 minutes, drain the solution and lightly rinse the berries. To prevent your chocolate-covered strawberries from cracking, it's important to use firm and unbruised strawberries. Remembering to be gentle when rinsing your strawberries can help keep your berries in tip-top shape for longer.
3. Thoroughly dry your berries before dipping.
Use a food-grade paper towel to gently pat your strawberries dry. Because moisture can cause mould, and adding water to tempered chocolate can cause the chocolate to seize, you must fully dry your strawberries before dipping. We do not recommend air drying your berries because it can take a while to dry. The longer your berries sit at room temperature, the less time you'll have before they begin to spoil.
4. Insert a toothpick into the berry's stem.
When you dip your strawberries into chocolate, you increase the weight of the berry. Because strawberry stems are typically cut short, you may not be left with lots to hold on to. This may cause your strawberry stems to break as you dip your berries, causing your berries to fall into your bowl of chocolate. To make it easier to dip and avoid making a mess, push a toothpick into your strawberries through the stem. This will allow you to dip your berries without damaging the leaves, resulting in a bespoke end product.
How to Dip Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
1. Prepare your workspace.
Lay down a piece of parchment or a clean, silicone baking sheet on a baking tray. This is where you'll place your dipped berries to set. Make sure your workspace is clean and dry.
2. Prepare your chocolate.
Melt your chosen chocolate for dipping. If you're using compound chocolate, microwave it in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until it's fully melted and ready for use. If the chocolate is too thick, add some vegetable oil to thin it. If you're using pure chocolate, ensure to temper it properly before dipping.
It is best to use a narrow and deep bowl for dipping. This will help you submerge as much of the berry as possible in one go, resulting in a even and smooth coat of chocolate.
3. Dip your berries.
Hold the strawberries by the toothpick and dip them into your prepared chocolate. Ensure you evenly coat the berry while keeping the leaves and stem free from chocolate. Shake off excess chocolate and gently scrape the berry's bottom against the bowl's edge. This will help prevent a pool of chocolate, known as a 'foot', from forming under your berry as it sets.
Place your dipped berry on the baking tray and push forward gently (approximately 1mm). This will also help prevent your berry from developing a foot as it sets.
When your berries are fully set, transfer them to a plate to serve. Remember to store your left-over strawberries in the fridge and consume them within 24-48 hours. Condensation in the fridge may cause your strawberries to sweat and crack, so it is best to consume them as quickly as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of chocolate is best for dipping strawberries?
Semi-sweet and dark chocolates are popular choices due to their slightly bitter flavour that complements the sweetness of the strawberries. However, you can also use milk or white chocolate based on your preference. If you're using pure chocolate, remember to temper it properly to achieve a shiny and smooth finish.
How can I store chocolate-covered strawberries and how long will they last?
Chocolate-covered strawberries are best consumed within 24-48 hours. Store them in the refrigerator uncovered on a flat surface like a baking sheet. Avoid storing them in a container as it can cause condensation, which can make the chocolate crack and the berries to sweat.
Why is my chocolate seizing or becoming lumpy when I melt it?
Water chocolate's enemy. Even a small amount can cause it to seize up and become grainy. Be sure to thoroughly dry your strawberries and utensils before dipping, and avoid using a steam-based method to melt your chocolate.
Can I add toppings to my chocolate-covered strawberries?
Absolutely! You can add crushed nuts, sprinkles, coconut shavings, or drizzle with white chocolate for added texture and flavour. Just make sure to add the toppings before the chocolate sets (with the exception of the drizzle) so that they stick to the chocolate.
Why do we need to insert a toothpick into the strawberry's stem?
Inserting a toothpick into the stem of the strawberry helps maintain the structure of the berry during the dipping process. It also gives you more control when dipping and shaking off excess chocolate, and it makes the strawberries easier to hold when eating.
Can I make chocolate-covered strawberries if I don't have a microwave?
Yes, you can melt chocolate using a double boiler on the stovetop. Simply place a heat-safe bowl over a pot of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water), add your chocolate, and stir occasionally until it's melted and smooth.
Can I use frozen strawberries to make chocolate-covered strawberries?
It is not recommended to use frozen strawberries because they contain a high amount of water. Once thawed, the excess water can cause the chocolate to seize and may result in a less-than-ideal texture for your finished product.