Sunday, March 3, 2013

Surprise Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

I was in a nice chocolate shop early in February in need of a little afternoon pick-me-up. While the salesperson put my tiny chocolate in a pretty little bag she tried to entice me to order chocolate-dipped strawberries for Valentine's Day. Out of curiosity I inquired about the price. I imagine my raised eyebrows were not the reaction she was seeking.

Now I'm no stranger to paying a pretty price for food items. The bakery I worked for in California had a very nice product line that was not inexpensive. We made everything by hand in the shop. You expect to pay a premium for high quality, well-executed, goods. Still, the price for one chocolate-dipped berry was rather shocking.

As I drove home I started thinking about a chocolate-dipped strawberry I once had in a little food gourmet shop in Los Altos, California. I don't remember the name of the shop, as I only went there once, but the strawberry was filled with a sweetened cream cheese mixture then dipped in chocolate. It was heavenly.  The surprise filling elevated it to a special treat.

You can use semi-sweet or milk chocolate, but I prefer bittersweet chocolate because it contrasts nicely with the slightly sweet filling. The addition of chopped pistachios add a little salt and crunch. Or forget the nuts if you like. Use the largest strawberries you can find, so there is more room for filling. A star or french tip makes a pretty presentations, but a plain tip would work as well.

Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Stir until creamy.

Dry the berries thoroughly before filling and dipping.

Gently fill the strawberries with the cream cheese mixture.

Dip strawberries in chocolate. Sprinkle with pistachios. Let set-up on a parchment or wax paper lined tray.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

16 ounces (454 g) strawberries
4 ounces (113 g) cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons (27 g) powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 ounces (173 g) bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1/4 cup (35 g) shelled pistachios, chopped, optional

Gently wash and dry strawberries. Remove stems. If small you may need to remove some of the flesh to make a larger cavity. Line a tray with parchment or waxed paper and set aside. Stir softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Fill pastry bag fitted with a star or french tip with cream cheese mixture. Fill strawberries until cavity feels full. Dip the opposite end in melted chocolate and sprinkle with nuts, if using.

The strawberries are best eaten the day they are made. Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to serve.

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