From my earliest memories, seeing a tray of chocolate dipped strawberries meant a special occasion. We never had these at home, I only saw them at parties or restaurants. Inevitably it was someone’s birthday, anniversary, or Valentine’s Day. There is something very romantic about dipped strawberries – maybe because they often appear to have a heart shape.
With the heat of summer coming on strong this week, we picked up some beautiful strawberries at the farmer’s market – sweet with just the right amount of tartness to stand up to the chocolate coating. As the thermometer moved steadily toward 90-degrees, we grabbed the last of our items (some Berkshire loin chops for a future dinner, yum!) and headed home.
Even with temps soaring, this is an easy recipe to make. You won’t heat up the whole kitchen – you just need enough heat under the chocolate to melt it. I had the berries washed, dried, and the chocolate melted in no time. Dipping only takes a few minutes, then into the fridge to cool. They are great to make ahead – a sweet luxury any time fresh strawberries are in season!
If you want to be super indulgent, you can double dip the berries. Dip them, let them set up, reheat the chocolate and dip them again. Oh, the decadence is a fabulous treat!
For today’s rendition, I chose to go with a Mexican hot chocolate flavor profile. This is typically made with semisweet chocolate, cinnamon, and a touch of heat from cayenne pepper. I took those same ingredients and turned them into a dip for fresh fruit. Oh yeah!
To make the chocolate flow more easily, I used a trick I learned from Pam Anderson – coconut oil! Yep, just a little added to the chocolate as it melts makes the chocolate smooth as silk. And because there is no liquid involved, there is no opportunity for your chocolate to seize on you! Plus, coconut oil is a dairy-free ingredient, so as long as you use dairy-free chocolate this is safe for anyone with lactose or dairy issues. Just one trick – use it at room temperature for the easiest scooping!
Now aren’t these beauties the perfect ending to any meal? I think they are even better with a casual barbecue because people aren’t expecting anything fancy and they will oooh and ahhh when they spy these treats. Plus fresh from the fridge, they are refreshingly cool, perfect for hot summer nights.
Be sure the chocolate chips and spices are gluten-free before using. If you have any questions, contact the manufacturer. If you need dairy-free too, look for dairy-free chocolate chips, such as Enjoy Life brand which are gluten, dairy, nut, soy, and GMO free.
- Fresh whole strawberries, preferably with stems and leaves intact
- Semisweet chocolate chips (dairy free if needed)
- Coconut oil (use 1 tsp per cup of chocolate chips)
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground cayenne pepper, optional
- Rinse the strawberries and pat completely dry with towels. If they are damp the chocolate will not stick to them. You can do this a day in advance and set them on baking sheets to fully dry.
- When you are ready to dip the strawberries, line one or two baking sheets (or more if you are making a lot of berries) with parchment paper. Set the baking sheet(s) and fruit beside the stove.
- Place the chocolate and coconut oil in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and cayenne (if using). Once the chocolate has begun to melt, stir the mixture occasionally, moving the unmelted chocolate and oil to the bottom of the bowl, being careful to watch for any scorching.
- When the chocolate is nearly completely melted, remove the pan from the heat but leave the bowl sitting over the water. You need the chocolate to remain quite warm while you are dipping the berries. Stir until all the chocolate is completely dissolved and the coconut oil is blended into the chocolate. Lift the spoon and judge the thickness of the chocolate - if needed, you can add more chocolate or coconut oil to get it perfect. Carefully taste the chocolate and add more of the cinnamon and cayenne if desired.
- Grasp a berry by the leaves and stem and dip it into the melted chocolate mixture. If your berries are large, tip them sideways so that the chocolate reaches almost to the top. Leave some of the red showing, making a more beautiful presentation and giving people something to hold while eating them.
- Once the berry is coated, lift it out of the chocolate, allowing the excess to drip back into the bowl. Transfer to the parchment-covered baking sheets. Set the berries slightly apart from each other to allow room for the chocolate to pool around them and the air to circulate, which will help them dry. Continue dipping until all the berries are done. If the chocolate starts to get too thick, return the pan to the heat, stirring until it is loosened up again, then continue dipping.
- Set the baking sheets aside, uncovered, until the chocolate is set. This can take several hours depending on the thickness of the chocolate coating, the humidity, and the temperature in your home. Once the chocolate is set, cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- When ready to serve, set out at room temperature to warm up, about 1 hour before serving. These hold beautifully on buffets - you can put them out before the party begins and they will still be perfect by the time your guests are ready for dessert.
- Store any leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator.
- NOTES: To dip about 100 strawberries for a large party, I used a bag of chocolate chips from a warehouse store, about 4-1/2 pounds and 1/3 jar of coconut oil. Use your best judgment on the amount of melted chocolate you need, erring on the side of too much so that the melted chocolate will be deep enough to easily coat all the berries you have. Start with about 2-1/2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon. Add cayenne to taste; for mild try 1 teaspoon, adding more as desired or feel free to leave this out if you prefer.
- Yield: This recipe is scalable for any size event. For a large party see notes below.
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