It’s almost here!
Strawberry season is coming, regardless of pandemics.
And THAT’S a reason for all of us in this beautiful state to be thankful. (PSA: For those with strawberry allergies, I’m sorry; you may want to stop reading.)
Here in Maine there are May days when the temperature is colder than I want and the sky is darker than I like. On those afternoons, I feel I could be one of the ladies in Will Barnet’s Infinite. The difference, of course, is that the figures in this iconic painting give homage to the strong women of our working waterfront—waiting and watching for the safe return of their seafaring husbands, sweethearts, and sons.
I, on the other hand, wait for strawberries.
I just want the sun to shine more than two days in a row so the earth will warm up and yield that fabulous berry!
For me, no berry is as inviting as a Maine strawberry. Red as a ruby and framed with spearmint-like leaves, set against a cloudless ombre-blue sky. The thought of strawberries makes me salivate like a modern-day Pavlov trial.
In the month of May, I start thinking of all I can make with those edible gems.
I can find as many things to make with strawberries as Bubba enlightend Forrest he could prepare with shrimp—strawberries-n-cream, strawberry-walnut chocolate tart, strawberry salad, strawberry etc. Yeah. You get it.
There was a time when the first quart of my hand-picked Maine strawberries, every season, went directly toward the anticipated strawberry shortcake dessert.
Pandemics, however, call for chocolate.
Plus, as you regulars may have noticed, I gravitate to food that is easy and universally appreciated. Despite the fact that I see gorgeous Facebook photos of elaborate recipes with multiple steps—the sort of thing I used to throw my whole self into when I worked as a chef—the homebody in me just wants to wear my yoga pants and use what I have.
And I always have a bag of good chocolate chips.
Chocolate chips are essential for my son’s favorite cookies, my random mood-enhancing snacking, and this sleeper-rockstar of desserts: chocolate-covered strawberries. Forget about Valentines Day gone by; mid-May is high time to practice the craft with store-bought berries, in preparation for the Maine strawberry season.
Enjoy this absolutely easy guide for chocolate-covered strawberries.
The recipe is for you. And like all recipes I love, it’s easy pure deliciousness.
Chocolate chips are a good staple to have on hand in your pantry.
- 1 12oz bag of chocolate chips—the good kind.
I like bittersweet Ghirardelli chips, which hover around 70% cacao. It makes a difference to buy good chocolate. I don’t eat dessert every day, but when I do, I make it the good stuff.
- ½ bag of white chocolate chips—again, make them good.
- Strawberries at room temperature. Be sure to select berries with nice greens!
These basic kitchen tools are good multipurpose items that you will use many times.
- Microwave or saucepan and oven mitt
- Glass bowl (8”–10” diameter)
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper or silicone pan-liner
- 1 pastry bag, if you have them. I use readily available disposable pastry bags. You can substitute a zip-lock bag here with really good results.
This recipe takes 20 minutes of active time. It looks long, but it’s not. I encourage you to give it a quick read before you begin.
Prepare a space in your refrigerator where your baking tray can rest when loaded with berries. After I dip berries, I slide the tray in the fridge for about 5 minutes to give the chocolate a nudge to begin hardening. This isn’t essential, but helps.
Line a baking tray with parchment and set aside.
Lightly rinse your berries, then individually pat them dry with a paper towel. Don’t cheat.
Now. Empty the bag of chocolate chips into your bowl. Melting chips for dipping is easy because they are already tempered. They will yield a glossy coating, with a quick zip through the microwave or over a double boiler on the stove.
MICROWAVE DIRECTIONS FOR MELTING CHOCOLATE:
- With the glass bowl of chips in the microwave, cook on high power for 30 seconds.
- Pull the bowl out and stir.
- Repeat this process of cooking 30 seconds, followed by stirring, until the chips have transformed into a pudding-like consistency and the mixture is lump-free. You should see the traces of the path left by the spoon as you stir.
STOVETOP DIRECTIONS FOR MELTING CHOCOLATE:
- You’ll need a saucepan slightly smaller than your bowl; pour an inch or so of water in it.
- Place your pan on the stove, high heat, and bring the water to a simmer.
- While the water is heating, place the chips in your glass bowl.
- When the water has reached a simmer, turn the heat very low and rest the bowl of chips directly on the saucepan. Hold the edge of the bowl firmly with the oven mitt.
- Stir constantly until the chips have transformed into a pudding-like consistency and the mixture is lump-free. You should see the traces of the path left by the spoon as you stir.
Place 4-6 oz. white chocolate chips in your disposable pastry bag or zip-lock bag. Melt in the same way. If using the stovetop method, melt the chips in a dish and then transfer to the bag. Set aside.
Now for dipping! Experiment with the way you hold the strawberries to ensure that you have a light but secure hold on a berry by the green top. Some tops may be loose—if so, just hold as close as possible to the greens.
Also consider that most berries have a side that is not as ripe. If this is the case, turn it so that when you hold the berry the most red side is “up.”
Dip the berry straight down into the chocolate “pudding.” Tip it to the left, then right, and finish by pulling the berry up and out of the bowl near an edge. At this time, as you are pulling the berry from the chocolate, lightly drag that less-ripe side against the edge of the bowl, removing excess. (This is why you position the berry with the red side up.)
Place the berry on the parchment paper with this side down. The chocolate from the sides will settle and create a “foot.”
Repeat, lining up your chocolate-dipped berries in diagonal rows on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
When you have dipped all of your berries, retrieve your bag of melted white chocolate. Ensure it is still warm; you may have to give it 10 seconds in the microwave.
Use scissors to snip a scant ⅛ inch off the tip end of the bag.
Hold the bag directly over the berries. Lightly squeeze it to start a trail of white chocolate drizzle. Move the bag up and down the diagonal rows of berries, lacing them with tracery lines of white chocolate deliciousness. You can drizzle as much or as little as you like. You could even make polka dots. Play with your food!
When satisfied, slide your baking sheet into the fridge for a few minutes to set the chocolate.
Chocolate-covered strawberries look equally as amazing on a cheese tray as they do paired with brownies. If you are lucky enough to have hostas sprouting in your yard, pick a couple of the broad green leaves for display. Wash and dry them to use with your berries on that cheese tray or dessert platter!
Katherine White is the Farnsworth’s Special Events Manager and is responsible for the art museum’s widely acclaimed events, such as the Summer Gala. With more than 25 years of experience as a yacht chef, caterer, and designer, her favorite pairing is unfussy food with beloved people, and making memorable meals with what she already has. Enjoy this recipe, inspired by the Farnsworth collection.« Previous Post | Teaching Artist Profile: Abbie ReadJamie Wyeth: Maine Coon Cat | Next Post »