DIY: Chocolate Covered Strawberries


Chocolate covered strawberries are a beautiful thing. They are elegant looking, taste really good, and so easy to make. You don’t even need any fancy equipment. I taught my niece how to make them a few years ago and she elevated them by adding detail. This recipe and instructions to make two dozen chocolate covered strawberries is from @ilikeashley.

Ingredients

  • 2 dozen strawberries
  • 12 oz. bag of semi sweet chocolate chip morsels
  • 4 oz. white chocolate chip morsels
  • 1 tbsp & 2 tsp of vegetable shortening

Instructions

Rinse and pat dry each strawberry and line them up about one to two inches apart on a parchment or wax lined tray.

Find a bowl that fits on top of a pot about halfway deep. Fill about one third of the pot with water and heat on medium high. Add the 12 oz bag of semi sweet chocolate with 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. of vegetable shortening into the bowl. The shortening thins out the chocolate and gives the chocolate a nice shine. 

Using a wooden spoon, stir the chocolate as it melts. You are looking for the right balance of chocolate to shortening. Too much shortening could alter the taste of the chocolate and too little shortening will make it result in overly thick chocolate and more difficult to cover the strawberries. Once you are happy with the consistency, turn off the heat.  
Take one strawberry by the stem, dipping it into the melted chocolate and turning it around to ensure coverage. Let any excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Lay the dipped strawberry back in its original space. 

Repeat until all 24 strawberries are covered with semi sweet chocolate. Place the tray of strawberries in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes so the chocolate can harden.

You can either save the leftover chocolate or discard it. Either way, wash and dry the bowl and wooden spoon. Place the bowl back onto the pot and melt 4 oz of white chocolate with 1 tsp. of vegetable shortening. 

Using the wooden spoon, stir the chocolate as it melts. The white chocolate should be a little thinner than the previous chocolate as it is used to finely decorate the chocolate. 
Transfer the melted white chocolate into a ziplock sandwich bag. Zip the bag close, but make sure to remove as much air as possible. Using a pair of scissors, cut a tiny tip off one of the bottom corners.  
Remove the tray of strawberries from the refrigerator. Taking the melted white chocolate, squeeze it through the small hole. With one hand, draw lines across the strawberries back and forth until you’ve decorated all 24 strawberries. It gets easier with practice and a lot of fun.
Place the tray back in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes. Once hardened and chilled, they are ready to eat. For both practical reasons and for a nice presentation, I recommend placing each strawberry in its own cupcake liner.  
That’s it! Easy, peasy!  

 

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DIY: Strawberries and Whipped Cream filled Cream Puffs

Last Sunday afternoon, I hung out with my two youngest nieces, ages 7 and 9. They wanted to bake. I was inspired to make cream puffs having recently eaten the Italian version, bigne alla crema from Ca’ momi in Napa. If you are in the area, you must visit Oxbow Market and pick up some of these delicious pastries.  

  Never having made cream puffs before, I searched for a simple recipe. I found a recipe online from King Arthur Flour. I use King Arthur flour and have been successful in the past using their recipes. I already had most of the ingredients. Fresh whipped cream would fill these pastry shells. I picked up some of the sweetest organic strawberries from the farmer’s market earlier in the morning so I would add that to the recipe. This recipe makes a dozen cream puffs.
Ingredients for pastry:

  • 1 cup water
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 all purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs

Ingredients for filling:

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 basket of strawberries, washed and sliced

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place water, butter, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan over medium high heat. Let the butter melt. When the butter reaches boiling point, remove the pan from heat. Quickly add the flour and stir vigorously.

 Return the pan to the burner and cook over medium heat, stirring all the while, until the mixture smooths out and follows the spoon around the pan; this should take less than a minute.
 Remove the pan from the heat, and transfer dough to a mixing bowl and let the cool for 10 minutes. Beat eggs one at a time. Once last egg is in, beat for an additional 2 minutes.
 Measure out the dough into 3-4 tablespoons rounds and place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet about 3 inches apart.
 Bake the pastries for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for another 20 minutes. The pastries should be a medium golden brown. Do not open the oven door while the pastries are baking.
Remove the pastries from the oven. Make a small slit in the top of each, and return them to the oven for 5 minutes, to allow the steam to escape. Place them on a rack to cool. 
 To make the whipped cream, pour the heavy whipping cream into a mixing bowl, and begin to whip on high speed. Add sugar gradually as you whip. Continue to whip until stiff and smooth. 
  
The cream puffs are now ready for assembling.  
 Slice the cream puffs in half and fill the bottom halves of the puffs with whipped cream, add sliced strawberries, replace their tops, and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

 The nieces loved helping to make them and eat them. They especially loved the whipped cream.  

For A Limited Time: Three Red Fruit

It’s the end of May and if you go to any Bay Area Farmer’s Market, you will find strawberries, raspberries, and cherries at its best. It’s a very short time period that all three of these red fruit are in season. It may even be shorter this year because of the California drought. At a recent dinner party, I had the fortune to help make a French dessert called “Three Red Fruit” or “trois fruit rouge au vin rouge” and was even more fortunate to eat it.

About 2 cups of strawberries should be rinsed, de-stemmed, and cut in halves while another 2 cups of raspberries should be cleaned. It was my first time using a cherry pitter which was fun. I cleaned and pitted about 2 cups of bing cherries as well. Did you know the Bing cherry was named after a Chinese man by the name of Ah Bing that was influential in developing the fruit back in the 1800’s?
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Place the pitted cherries, 1/2 cup of red wine, and a 1/4 of sugar in a ceramic pot over medium high heat. A ceramic pot is recommended because much of the ingredients being cooked down is acidic. After a few minutes of cooking, add the strawberries.
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Stir the fruit lightly and after another few minutes pass, add the raspberries. Keep stirring occasionally while the fruit cooks for another few minutes. When the fruits break down and boils rapidly, remove from heat.
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Ladle the “Three Red Fruit” into bowls and eat with a spoon while it is still warm. This is a simple dessert that is delicious. The fruits might be costly this year, but it is so worth it.

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