Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Valentine's Day treat

The big day for sweethearts is just around the corner. Have you ordered flowers, picked out a card, bought a shiny piece of jewelry?

At my house, there will probably be a special meal this weekend to mark an early Valentine’s. I love to pamper my family with food and dessert, especially on special occasions. I even bring out my pretty, floral china for my Valentine’s meal.

I’m not sure what I’ll cook this year, but I’m leaning toward a delicious lasagna prepared with a homemade sauce.

Any special meal should end with a lovely dessert, I think. And if it’s for Valentine’s Day, most of us expect chocolate!

There are so many options from cakes and tarts to pies and mousses. But today, I’m sharing a very simple recipe that’s always a big hit with my family.

We love strawberries at my house and have a special affinity for strawberry desserts. The kids especially love strawberries dipped in chocolate.

Over the weekend, my daughter Anna decided for me that this should be the recipe I write about this week and even volunteered to melt the chocolate and dip and decorate the strawberries. How could I say no?

We’ve made this recipe a few times and dip not just strawberries but also pretzels, bananas and graham crackers. At least once, I omitted the shortening, and the recipe worked fine, but the shortening does seem to make the chocolate smoother.

Before you get started with this recipe, make sure to wash the berries, leaving the stems and leaves intact, and place them on paper towels to dry. Pat them dry if they haven’t air-dried by the time you are ready to dip.

Semi-sweet chocolate chips are our favorite for this recipe, but milk chocolate is also delicious.

Anna dipped more than a dozen strawberries Sunday and decorated them with drizzled white chocolate. She did not add shortening to the white chocolate chips before melting. She used pink food dye to color half of the white chocolate and drizzled both colors on the dipped berries. To make drizzling easier, place the melted chocolate in a zippered plastic bag and cut the tip from one corner. The chocolate should squeeze out easily from your make-shift pastry bag.

With some of the leftover chocolate, Anna decorated pretzel twists. I love sweet/ salty desserts and will be munching on the pretzels all week!

Depending on the size of your strawberries, you should be able to dip several dozen strawberries with one bag of chocolate chips.

There are plenty of beautiful strawberries at grocery stores this time of year, so pick up a quart of berries and a bag of chocolate chips and make something special for those you love.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
  • 16 oz. bag of chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • Strawberries*
  • White chocolate chips for decorating (optional)
Wash berries. Do not remove leaves. Place berries on paper towels or pat with paper towels to dry.

Place chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave safe bowl. I like to use my 4-cup batter bowl for this recipe. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until the chips are melted. They still retain their shape as they melt, but stir to smooth them. Don’t over cook.

Hold onto the leaves and dip strawberries, leaving a little bit of the red showing. Place on parchment paper or wax paper. Decorate with melted white chocolate drizzle if desired.

I think the berries are best within a few hours of dipping. Store remaining berries in the refrigerator. Let the chill wear off before serving.

* I have never used all of my chocolate dip for berries when making this recipe, but, depending on the size of the berries, you should be able to make two to three dozen. I also dip pretzels, bananas and graham crackers in this dip.

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