It's All About the Ingredients
When you only have two ingredients to work with, make sure they are the best. Look for large, juicy strawberries and don't use any that are blemished. You should also ignore those that don't have a nice, even form or that aren't ripe yet. It’s okay to be a berry snob—only good-looking strawberries make good-looking chocolate-covered strawberries. And this is Valentine’s Day; it’s not a time to skimp on pretty. Try and find berries that still have a lot of leaves attached, too. Not only do bright, green leaves add a nice contrast of color, but the leaves also work well as a “handle” when you’re eating them.
More important than a nice berry is some nice chocolate. You can use milk, white or dark chocolate, but make sure you opt for higher quality. The nicer the chocolate, the easier it will be to melt and the more smoothly it’ll cover your berries. Dark chocolate contains a minimum of 70% cocoa solids and is considered the most decadent—but you can let your taste buds decide which variety to choose. You can use a bar of chocolate, broken into pieces, or chocolate chips.
Prep Your Berries
To start, rinse your strawberries in cool water, then pat them dry—leaves and all—with a towel or paper towel until they are completely dry. If they’re even a little bit damp, the chocolate will not stick as it should, and instead, will slide right off the berry.
Melt, Melt, Baby
Melting chocolate is an easy concept but can be a little fussy in practice. The main thing you have to keep in mind is that chocolate cannot get wet. If you get any water in your chocolate, it will break and never melt properly, and you’ll have to start the melting process over with new chocolate. When it comes to melting, you have two options: you can use a microwave or use the double-boiler method.
To double-boil your chocolate, fill a small saucepan with water, then place a heat-safe metal or glass bowl over the saucepan so the bottom of the bowl just touches the water. Then fill the bowl with chocolate, bring the water to a boil, and heat until the chocolate melts, stirring frequently.
To microwave-melt your chocolate, add the chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl, and heat for 30 seconds. Stir if possible, then continue to heat in 10 second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate is smooth.
Time for a Dip
Before you go for a dip, prep a baking sheet with a piece of waxed paper, waxy side up. You might be tempted to use the leaves of the berry as a handle for dipping—fight that urge and grab a skewer instead. Insert the skewer into the top of the berry, then dip it into your melted chocolate. Place the berry on the wax paper and let it dry at room temperature or place in the refrigerator for a quick harden.
Jazz it Up
Chocolate-covered strawberries look amazing on their own but making them look over-the-top gorgeous is pretty simple. You can decorate the berries while they’re still wet by sprinkling them in colorful sugar or sprinkles to make them shine. Alternatively, cover then in chopped nuts for a bit of crunch or roll the berries in coconut flakes.
If you want to change the flavor of your chocolate and really spice up a romantic evening, try adding a hint of chili powder to the melted chocolate. The chili powder kicks it all up a notch and adds a touch of the unexpected for sure. Or try going in the opposite direction and dip your berries in melted frosting rather than chocolate. And if you’re looking to add a boozy punch, soak your berries in champagne before you begin the dipping process.
Once the chocolate has hardened on your berries, you can add chocolate stripes by dipping a fork into melted chocolate and drizzling it over the berries. For greater precision, fill a zip-top bag with melted chocolate, snip one of the corners of the bag and drizzle as you would a pastry bag. You can also give you berries a two-toned look by dipping them in one type of chocolate first at an angle, letting them dry, then dipping them in a different color chocolate at the opposite angle.
Once you get going decorating your chocolate-covered strawberries, you’ll find there’s really no limit to how you can dress them up. Store your romantic dessert in an air-tight container in the refrigerator until your lucky someone is ready to devour them—if you can wait that long.