But it is EXPENSIVE to buy anything that is already beautifully covered in chocolate...
why it is so expensive is a mystery, because covering strawberries and pretzels and anything really, is so easy to do at home. Don't pay $50 for a dozen chocolate covered strawberries! Make 2 dozen at home for under $10!! It's easy....
First you'll need to make sure you get some nice strawberries. Try to find strawberries that aren't overripe, because nobody likes a squishy strawberry. You want to get wonderfully sweet strawberries that will mix well with the semi-sweet chocolate. Wash the strawberries and pat dry. Then you'll want to allow your strawberries to air dry overnight. I find this to be key. Chocolate and water do NOT play nicely together, so the drier the strawberry - the better! Place paper toweling on a baking sheet and arrange the strawberries in a single layer and just let them relax there all night long. They'll be ready to dip in the morning
When ready to dip, you'll need to get out your double boiler. What? You don't have one? Guess what... Neither do I!! No worries - we can make one as long as you have a sauce pan and a heat proof bowl that fits inside the sauce pan without touching the bottom. My bowl touches the bottom of my sauce pan, so I have to put my steamer on top of the sauce pan and the bowl in the steamer - whew! Lots of work, but it is effective!
Now you want to get everything set-up and ready to go. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place it next to where you will be melting the chocolate. The strawberries should be on the other side, so you have an assembly line of sorts. Pick up strawberry - dip - and set on parchment to dry. This is what my set-up looks like....
For a nicer look, use 6" wooden skewers and a colander upside down on the parchment paper. Use the holes in the colander to hold the skewer after dipping the strawberry - no flat sides! or if you happen to have some styrofoam blocks you can stick the skewer in the styrofoam
Add a couple inches of water into the sauce pan. Bring this water to a boil....
NOTE: Don't put a paper towel over your burner unless you have an induction stove top. Induction technology is so cool! My pans never touch the stove top! I use the paper towels under them for cooking, and then I use the same paper towel to clean up! What a BONUS!
Now that the water is boiling, reduce the heat so you have a nice simmer. Add your chocolate to the bowl and place the bowl in the sauce pan. I use the 11 ounce bag of Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chips with a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and for the semi-sweet chocolate I use the 12 ounce bag of Ghirardelli with a teaspoon of vegetable oil. For the chocolate you can use whatever brand you like, but the better quality chocolate you buy the better the results. If you use a very high quality chocolate you won't need to add oil to thin it. NOTE: I like to use chips because they will melt evenly as they are all the same size
Stir constantly as the chocolate melts. Keep stirring until you have smooth chocolate. Once the chocolate is melted - remove the bowl from the heat source and dry the bottom of the bowl. Now add in 4 ounces more of the chocolate chips and stir vigorously until the chocolate is melted. By doing this you are properly tempering the chocolate which will result in a glossy finish on the berries. As the chocolate cools you will need to return it to the heat source and stir to melt, so I advise to keep your water simmering
If the water is boiling and spurting or steaming up the sides of the pan then your heat is too high and you run the risk of the chocolate seizing. Turn it down so you have a simmer. It is important to keep the water away from the chocolate! and the heat to a minimum! Water and too high a heat will seize the chocolate, and you'll end up with just a big glob that you can't use. Once chocolate seizes you're done. You have to start over with new chocolate!
There will be no multi-tasking when you are working with melted chocolate. You have to keep stirring as you are dipping. You can't walk away to put a load of laundry in or answer the phone, so be sure if you begin this that you have enough time to give it your full attention. White chocolate is especially sensitive!
I melt a bag of white chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli) and dip 1/2 of my strawberries. To dip the strawberries, I use small metal skewers or 6" wooden skewers inserted into the stem end of the strawberry. You can grasp the stem and dip them too - that works fine, but sometimes the stem will pull off and you'll have to go fishing for your strawberry in the chocolate ;o) Dip the strawberry into the chocolate, getting it as high as you can and then hold over the chocolate and let it drip a bit. Set covered strawberry on parchment paper to dry in a single layer or, for more beautiful results, place the skewer into a hole of your colander and let dry (turn colander upside down first).
Then I dip as many pretzel rods as I can until all the white chocolate is gone. When dipping pretzel rods, I use a cylinder. I put the chocolate in the cylinder (not quite to the top to allow for dispersion) and then dip the pretzels. This allows me to get chocolate nearly to the end of the pretzel - yummmm If you don't have a cylinder you can dip them right into the bowl and cover as much of the pretzel as you can. Set dipped pretzels on parchment paper to dry in a single layer.
The cylinder below is kind of tall and my chocolate got stuck at the bottom which made me sad, so I switched to a test tube I found in Madison's old Chemistry set :)
Once I'm done with the white chocolate. I get another bowl and melt a bag of semi-sweet chocolate (pick your favorite chocolate) and start the process all over again. I dip my remaining strawberries in the semi-sweet and then move on to finish with the pretzels.
I use the remaining chocolate to drizzle over the white chocolate covered strawberries and pretzels. Using a plastic baggie, cut a very small snip off one corner of the bag bottom. Add the chocolate and drizzle. The chocolate should come out in a nice small drizzle. If it comes out in globs then you cut too big a hole in the bag. Sometimes I chop up pistachios in the blender and sprinkle them on the chocolate - yummmm
I also like to drizzle some white chocolate, so I melt about 1/2 a bag of white chocolate and put the melted chocolate in a plastic baggie and drizzle some more! If it is too thick to drizzle you can add a small amount of vegetable oil to thin out
Once dipped and cooled completely, chill the strawberries and the pretzels in the fridge for about 15-30 minutes until set. Then remove and keep at room temp until they are all gobbled up! The strawberries will only keep for a a day or two, but the pretzels you can store in an airtight container or wrap in plastic wrap and keep a little longer...of course, these are so delicious they disappear quickly!!
...and that is all there is to it! It is time consuming, but very well worth it!
recipe inspired by: allrecipes.com video on How to Temper Chocolate