On a sunny Sunday afternoon, we packed the kids in the car and headed to the farm fields to load up on a springtime favorite — strawberries. In a few minutes, we had buckets filled with the sweet berries and couldn’t wait to get home and eat them all.
The kids and I came up with the most amazing creations using our prized load. Pies, shortcake, jam, crushed over ice cream and even fresh with a dollop of whipped cream.
“Mom, what if we just dip them in chocolate? It is so good. Can we, please?”
As a chocolatier, I must admit that the combination of strawberry plus chocolate is a match made in heaven. And the better the chocolate, the better the end result.
Most chocolate coatings found at the grocery stores don’t live up to the flavor, freshness and sweetness of our local strawberries. The ready-to-dip products are packed with filler fats, artificial flavors and other chemicals. Candy coatings, such as almond bark, are just that — candy, and not really chocolate.
Why not create the dipping chocolate at home?
The starting point is to pick a high-quality, pure chocolate. Check the ingredient list. Cocoa mass or liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa should always be the first ingredients listed. Sugar, vanilla and soy lecithin are also common ingredients for most chocolates. Sometimes, dairy products are on the list as well. Chocolate chips or chocolate bars are the best options (I really like the Guittard and Kirkland brands). Stay away from baking squares.
You can simply melt the chocolate slowly in a microwave or double boiler over a stove top and dip the berries. However, sometimes the chocolate does not set properly, and you can end up with a sticky strawberry-chocolate mess.
After some research and a couple of batches, I found a great way to create a chocolate coating that tastes great, sets properly and makes those strawberries look amazing. And the best part is that you can dip just about anything in this chocolate. From cherries to pretzels, from cookies to frozen bananas, your imagination is your only limit.
Juliana Rennó Bounds of Roseburg, originally from Brazil, is a mother, chocolatier and the owner of Cabruca Chocolates. She’s also a Douglas County Moms guest blogger on nrtoday.com.