Skipping expensive bakery berries and dipping fruit in chocolate yourself is harder than it sounds. Many things can go wrong with this seemingly simple treat. For the brave, the bold, and the frugal, though, we can assist with a few chocolate-covered strawberry secrets.
Chocolate-covered strawberries always go over well. They’re sweet, juicy, adorable, and totally possible to make yourself—no patisserie skills required!
Of course, this doesn’t mean there aren’t a few pitfalls when it comes to coating berries in chocolate. It’s surprisingly easy for you to end up with chocolate that doesn’t stick, or berries that weep juices through their shells. Don’t worry, though! If you keep a few of these hacks in mind, you can create some gourmet-level strawberries just in time for Valentine’s Day gifting.
Use Dry Berries
Obviously, you want your berries to be dry when you coat them in chocolate. Of course, you also have to wash them before anyone can eat them. So, when we say dry, we mean you should literally dry them off—like, with a towel.
Even the smallest amount of moisture on the surface of your strawberries can ruin your chocolate coating. So, to be perfectly safe about it, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe your berries clean, rather than submerging them in water or rinsing them in a colander.
Ripe, But Not Too Ripe
You want your strawberries to be firm and sweet with the leaves attached. If they’re too ripe, the juices can leak out and cause them to weep through their chocolate shells. Of course, if they’re not ripe enough, they’ll taste sour and unappealing. This is why you want perfectly ripe berries.
One thing to keep in mind is all berries—regardless of their ripeness—will begin to weep through their shells if given enough time. In general, chocolate-covered strawberries only keep for about 10 hours. This is why it’s best to make them the day you plan to serve them. Before serving, you can leave them uncovered on a parchment-lined baking sheet somewhere cool and dry.
Use a Double Boiler
It’s tempting to melt your chocolate in the microwave, and it can be done. However, chocolate has a tendency to seize in microwaves, meaning it turns from rich, luscious, melted heaven into a clumpy, dull, brown paste.
This happens for two reasons: moisture gets into the chocolate, or it’s getting scorched. If moisture of any kind gets into your melted chocolate, it will seize. That’s why using dry berries is so important.
Chocolate also seizes when it’s scorched, and that, unfortunately, is incredibly easy to do in the microwave.
A double boiler melts the chocolate slowly and gives you greater control. This makes it far easier to prevent a chocolate-paste nightmare—just be sure you stir it regularly. Keep the heat very low or turn it off when the chocolate reaches melty perfection.
Don’t have a double boiler? No worries! This helpful video shows you how to create one with a pan and a metal bowl.
If you’re really set on using your microwave, at least watch this very informative video first. The video covers both the science of melting chocolate and how to use that knowledge to carefully melt chocolate in the microwave without creating a clumpy mess.
Add Butter for a Shiny Finish
If you want super-shiny strawberries, add a pat of butter to your chocolate! The extra fat gives the chocolate coating an even richer flavor and a mirror-like finish that’s sure to attract attention.
Just don’t add too much or your chocolate covering will melt, even at room temperature.
Candy Melts and Sprinkles
If you’re new to the world of chocolate-coverings, you might want to use a candy melt instead of regular chocolate. Candy melts aren’t pure chocolate. They have milk solids and oils inside that allow them to melt easily without seizing. They make it much easier to get the perfect consistency to dip your strawberries, although some consider the final flavor to be subpar.
Sprinkles can also help the chocolate-covered-strawberry novice. After you coat your berries, just roll them on a plate of sprinkles or dip them in a second bowl. The colorful bits will help cover up any pockmarks or blemishes in your chocolate coating.
Covering strawberries in chocolate isn’t all that difficult if you avoid the pitfalls. Of course, when it comes to Valentine’s Day gifting, you can always rely on your nearest grocery store or bakery to help you out if things go wrong.
So, if your chocolate seizes or your strawberries start to weep, don’t stress! Just go buy a box and try again next year.
Your sweetheart will be stoked to receive chocolate-covered strawberries, even if they don’t come from your kitchen.