How to Make Chocolate Covered Strawberries to Wow Your Valentine
Chocolate covered strawberries are simple in concept but potentially tricky to make. Just in time for Valentine's Day, we've demystified the process and added 13 cute styling ideas.
It's hard to imagine Valentine's Day and not think of chocolate — it's been de rigueur for sweethearts to exchange chocolate on Valentine's Day since the 1840s. But allegedly it wasn't until the 1960s that a Chicago gourmet chocolatier gilded the sweet lily by creating chocolate covered strawberries, and they've been one of the most popular Valentine's Day treats since.
You can buy chocolate covered strawberries, but if you're going to charm with chocolate, making your own hand-dipped chocolate covered strawberries can certainly win over your sweetheart — as long as you do it correctly. To help you out, we came up with some tips and recipes for how to make homemade chocolate covered strawberries.
Which chocolate to buy?
You can use standard semi-sweet chocolate chips, which are milk chocolate, but the higher the quality of the chocolate you use, the better your final product will be. Dark chocolate (preferably bars) works best because the cocoa solids are uncut by milk and will harden well at room temperature. As a bonus, dark chocolate is vegan and dairy-free.
Melting the chocolate can be simple or more complicated — that's up to you — and we'll cover multiple options. The one thing the methods have in common is that the chocolate should be finely chopped so that it melts quickly and evenly.
The simple method(s)
The easiest methods involve melting the chocolate by itself, either in the microwave or on the stovetop. The drawback is that even when the chocolate has set, it will still be a little bit pliable, so you don't get a snap when you bite into it. The chocolate will also have a dull-looking finish and be susceptible to "bloom." (Bloom is when the cocoa butter doesn't crystallize correctly and the chocolate looks sort of dusty.) That said, there's nothing wrong with the simple methods of melting chocolate for your strawberries, and prep time is minimal.
• Melt chocolate in the microwave. This method works just fine; the key is to zap the chocolate in short increments of about 10 seconds on high in a microwave-safe bowl. After each 10-second blast of heat, stir the chocolate. (Another option: Use 50% power as in the recipe below.) Stop heating it when it's smooth and ready for dipping. Pro Tip: Make sure the bowl is deep so your strawberries get a good dunk.
• Melt chocolate on the stovetop. You'll want to make a double boiler for this method. Sounds complicated, but it's not: Just put a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (some people add a dishcloth between the bowl and the pan). Set your chopped chocolate in the bowl and when it begins to melt, stir. The goal of the simmering water is to keep the heat even and low, so that your chocolate doesn't burn.
The extra-effort method: tempering the chocolate
Tempering chocolate just means melting the chocolate with another component so that the results are both shiny and hard and the chocolate doesn’t “bloom.”
• With cocoa butter. To make the bonbons that fill those heart-shaped boxes every Valentine's Day, chocolatiers use special tempering machines to melt chocolate with cocoa butter at a temperature of about 90°F. Once the strawberries are dipped in the tempered chocolate, the cocoa butter will start to crystallize and harden, but will need a few hours to set completely.
• Seeding. At home, you can temper your chocolate with previously tempered chocolate; that's called "seeding." The process is similar to tempering with cocoa butter: You have to monitor the temperature of the chocolate carefully. Try the technique using this recipe if you like (leave the melted chocolate in the bowl to dunk strawberries and omit the peppermint candies).
A lot of home cooks aren't going to go out and buy cocoa butter to temper chocolate, or go to the trouble of the true seeding method. If you still want that hard chocolate shell, there are shortcuts. The best part is that you don't have to worry about monitoring the temperature of the chocolate; you just have to make sure it's melted enough to coat the strawberries.
• Paraffin wax. Yes, you can melt your chocolate with paraffin wax. If you're dubious about edible wax, don't worry, it's completely safe and the chocolate still tastes great. Ohioans have been using it for decades to make peanut butter buckeye candies.
• Shortening or oil. One of the most popular methods is to melt the chocolate with shortening or coconut oil. This may not make the chocolate snappy but there won't be any bloom.
• Seeding without monitoring the temp. This blogger has success simply adding chocolate chips to melted chocolate to help the chocolate set the right crystalline structure.
It's February. It's most definitely not strawberry season in most of the country, and fresh strawberries may be expensive. But California and Florida farmers are busy shipping —though the fruit might not be the fullest-flavored of the year. Look for fairly firm strawberries that are as red as you can find. Ones with white on the berries will probably dip nicely, but won't have the best flavor. The strawberries should also have green caps (and stems if you can find them — this helps with the dipping, and also looks cute on the plate).
Working with strawberries
Dry thoroughly: Once you have your fruit picked out, make sure to rinse the strawberries and dry them thoroughly with a kitchen towel or a paper towel. Any moisture left behind will get between the strawberry and the chocolate which could either hasten the decomposition of the strawberry or cause a gap in the chocolate.
Dipping and setting: Before you dip strawberries in the chocolate, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, wax paper, or a silicone baking mat. This is where you'll place the chocolate strawberries to cool. Once the chocolate sets, the strawberries will release much more easily from the paper. Try to avoid refrigerating the strawberries. When they're refrigerated, they tend to sweat because they collect condensation. But if you’re in a hurry, go ahead, and then try to serve them within a day or two.
Storing chocolate covered strawberries
If you don't finish the strawberries, you can store the rest of the strawberries in an airtight container and refrigerate them. Line the container with paper towels to absorb excess moisture. As for any excess chocolate, dare we suggest some spoons?
Now that the basics are out of the way, get dipping with some of our most interesting variations for chocolate covered strawberry recipes.
Recipe ideas: Two-tone chocolate covered strawberries
You can create different looks for your strawberries using nothing more than melted dark chocolate and melted white chocolate. Try strategically dunking to create tuxedos. Apply simple drizzles or chevron stripes using a zip-top bag. Or add some flicks from a fork for strawberries worthy of Jackson Pollock.
Flavored chocolate covered strawberries
Looking to go beyond plain chocolate? Once you’ve dipped your berries in chocolate, customize them for your Valentine with a sprinkle of coconut or chopped nuts. You can also add cinnamon and cayenne to the melted chocolate for a treat reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate. Or fill the strawberries with cream cheese and marshmallow creme before dunking. For extra points, dip the strawberries in melted marshmallow fluff and brown them s’mores style with a culinary blow torch before they get a chocolate dunk.
Healthy chocolate covered strawberries
If you or your Valentine follows a special diet such as low-carb or Paleo, these strawberries will be just the thing, as they're coated with cocoa butter, cocoa, and only a smidge of honey.
Colorful chocolate covered strawberries
Stock up at a craft store on colorful candy melts, Valentine’s Day ribbon and sprinkles, candy sticks, and a styrofoam stand so you can dip and sprinkle your way to creative strawberry pops.
On the same theme, you can go wild with rainbow colors, keep things simple with sprinkles alone, or add brilliant green matcha.