Makes 1½ dozen large strawberries
Chocolate-dipped strawberries are the classic Valentine’s Day treat. You can also dip dried fruits, shortbread, even marshmallows. To get a glossy sheen and crisp snap, the chocolate must be tempered, a technique in which you heat, then cool, chocolate within a narrow temperature range. Good quality chocolate that has been properly handled is already tempered; it can be carefully melted and gently cooled to maintain its integrity. Start with small, even-size pieces cut from a solid ½-pound chocolate block (not chocolate chips, which contain additives that can interfere with the tempering process). You need an accurate thermometer. Test it in a glass of ice water; it should read 32 degrees. Dry before using. Also keep a water bath at about 94 degrees nearby in case the chocolate becomes a few degrees too cool. (Use this technique for milk chocolate by heating initially to 87 degrees, then cooling to 86 to 88 degrees.) Once you begin, don’t take a call or answer a text. Just keep working.
|8||ounces dark chocolate, chopped into ¼-inch pieces|
|1½||dozen large fresh
1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Place 6 ounces of the chocolate in a dry heatproof bowl. Heat a saucepan with several inches of water to 140 degrees. Set the bowl on the saucepan; it should fit snugly and the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Set the remaining chocolate aside.
3. Watching the temperature closely, heat the chocolate, stirring with a rubber spatula, to 89 degrees. It will be just melted with a chunk or two left intact. Immediately remove the bowl from the saucepan and wipe the bottom dry. Watch the temperature of the melted chocolate (it will continue to rise off the heat). Add about one-third of the remaining chocolate pieces, stirring constantly so they melt in the heat of the bowl. Add the remainder in small portions, continuing to stir. Let each portion melt before adding the next. Continue until the temperature reaches 88 to 90 degrees. It is important to keep the heat below 94 degrees. If it gets above 94 degrees, add more chocolate pieces to cool it off.
4. To test the chocolate, drizzle a small amount on parchment paper. It should harden to an even gloss in about 3 minutes. If it does not harden and you’re in the right temperature range, stir for a few minutes longer and try again.
5. Holding the strawberries by their stems, dip them into the chocolate so they are about three-quarters covered. Set them on the baking sheets and set aside for 1 hour to harden.