Chocolate dipped strawberries(cherries, figs...) are easy and fun to make. Any child (of any age) would love to help you with dipping. Choose a brand of chocolate that you love to nibble. (And choose a bar of chocolate rather than chocolate chips or anything called “chocolate coating,” even if it is sold in the same aisle as the fruit. Chocolate chips won’t melt well, and the so called chocolate coating sold in the produce aisle is not delicious enough. No need to “temper” the chocolate to keep it shiny: the secret to preventing the chocolate from turning gray and streaky is to dry and chill the fruit before dipping, then refrigerate it as soon after dipping as possible.
CHOCOLATE DIPPED STRAWBERRIES
About 2 pints small or medium strawberries (with or without stems), or up to 36 large
strawberries with stems, or 1 ¼ pounds cherries with stems
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or milk or white chocolate, finely chopped
Fluted paper candy cups (optional)
Rinse the fruit gently and spread it out on a tray lined with paper towels. The fruit should be as dry as possible before dipping; if necessary, pat it dry or use a cupped hand to cradle each piece gently in a soft dishtowel or a paper towel. Refrigerate until chilled.
Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper. Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl, preferably stainless steel. Bring an inch of water to a simmer in a wide skillet. If using semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, set the bowl directly in the skillet and keep the water at a bare simmer. If using milk or white chocolate, turn the heat off under the skillet and wait for 60 seconds before putting the bowl in the hot water.
Stir dark chocolate frequently, milk and white chocolate almost constantly, until almost entirely melted, then remove the bowl, wipe the bottom dry, and stir to finish melting the chocolate. The chocolate should be warm and fluid, but not hot. Grasp fruit by the stem or the shoulders and dip it about two-thirds of the way into the chocolate, or deeper if you like. Lift the fruit above the chocolate and shake off the excess, letting it drip back into the bowl, then very gently wipe a little excess chocolate from one side of the fruit on the edge of the bowl, set it on a lined cookie sheet, wiped side down, and slide it forward slightly to prevent a puddle of chocolate from forming at the tip. Refrigerate each tray as soon as it’s filled, and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Serve any time after the chocolate has set enough that you can peel the fruit cleanly from the parchment. Transfer each one to a fluted candy cup, if desired.
If you are making chocolate dipped cherries, be sure to warn you guests that the cherries all have pits!
For more ideas for strawberries, see recent posts and my new book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts (Artisan 2012) by Alice Medrich