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Tips for making chocolate-covered strawberries

Chocolate-covered strawberries are a great choice for an elegant easy dessert if you are looking for something that can easily be made in large quantities, while still giving your guests that fresh, sweet sensation. This article covers several tips and ideas you can use while making these miniature delights.

1. Choosing your strawberries

In choosing your strawberries, ensure that the surface has a smooth and consistent red sheen all across. There should be no brown spots or mold on your strawberries. Sometimes the colour of a strawberry may vary in different shades of red across its surface and this is fine. However, look out for colours of green or white on the strawberries as this is an indicator that they are not fully ripe. Strawberries that are too dark red are overripe.

Also, make sure that the stem of the strawberry is not drying up. Store strawberries covered in the fridge when they are not in use. The sooner you use them the better.

2. Choosing your chocolate

In choosing you chocolate, go with the flavour you desire, whether it be dark, milk, or white chocolate. Use a combination of all three for variety and class. Many people find that the easiest type of chocolate to work with is the chocolate melting wafer, or chocolate chips. Alternatively, you can use chopped chocolate as well.

3. Preparing the strawberries

Wash the strawberries gently with cold water before using them. One way you may want to do it is to fill a bowl with cold water and rub your strawberries gently. If you see a lot of sand accumulating at the bottom of the bowl, you know that they are very sandy so ensure that they are thoroughly cleaned.

After cleaning is done, dry the strawberries very gently by patting with an absorbent paper towel, and then you may leave them to dry further on another towel. Always make sure they are dry enough before you start dipping them in chocolate or else the chocolate may not stick properly and the water will cause the chocolate to seize.

4. Preparing the chocolate

It is best to use tempered chocolate for dipping strawberries as it gives a crisp and glossy texture. Tempered chocolate also keeps for a longer time without the formation of white spots. However, if you are going to serve the strawberries soon after, then this may not be a problem that affects you.

An alternative to tempered chocolate for a smooth, shiny texture is to use a bit of butter, shortening, or vegetable oil with the chocolate. Melt the ingredients over a double boiler and stir well.

5. Putting everything together

Prepare a tray lined with parchment paper or waxed paper for putting your strawberries in. Place everything in a row, starting with the strawberries, then the chocolate, and lastly the tray. Go from left to right, or right to left, based on whether you are left or right-handed. This will make things easier for you.

Hold onto the strawberry stem and dip the strawberry into the chocolate until it is about three-quarters dipped. Allow excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl, and then place your strawberry onto the tray with parchment or waxed paper. Let your chocolate-covered strawberries sit on the counter and dry.

6. Decorating ideas

Before the chocolate dries, you may cover it with nuts, sprinkles, coconut, or anything else your heart desires. You may even like to try dipping the chocolate-covered strawberry in another flavor of chocolate to give it two flavors and colors. Another thing you can do is to use a teaspoon, dip it into some chocolate and drizzle it over your strawberry to give it a drizzled effect. Putting some chocolate in a piping bag and piping something unique onto the strawberries can also be done.

7. Serving ideas

You may want to use the strawberries together with another dessert, or just serve them on their own. Serve them nicely arranged on dishes or on trays. You can have them served in paper doilies as well. You might even want to send them to friends as a gift.

A fun idea that you can try is instead of having premade chocolate-covered strawberries, prepare some chocolate fondue, along with bowls containing toppings like sprinkles and nuts. Let your guests dip the strawberries in themselves and choose to cover it in whatever they want.

Dark Chocolate Crème Brûlée

Everyone loves creme brulee. I think… Well if you do enjoy a good creme brulee now and then, then this easy dark chocolate creme brulee is just the right thing for you. Happy Valentine’s Day and enjoy:

Dark Chocolate Crème Brûlée

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces 53 percent dark chocolate, broken into small pieces, or 2/3 cup (4 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup plus 6 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided

Directions:

Yield: 6 servings

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place cream, half-and-half and vanilla in large saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth.

Whisk egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar in large mixer bowl. Gradually whisk in chocolate mixture.

Pour mixture through fine sieve into six 4-ounce ramekins or custard cups. Place ramekins in 13-by-9-inch baking dish; fill pan with hot water to 1-inch depth.

Bake for 40 minutes or until custards jiggle slightly when pan is shaken. Cool custards in water until cool enough to handle. Remove custards from water; refrigerate for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap; continue to refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Preheat broiler. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar over top of each custard. Place custards on baking sheet. Broil for 3 minutes or until sugar is melted and caramelized (rotate pan as needed to prevent burning). Alternately, tops can be caramelized using kitchen torch. Refrigerate for 2 hours so that the topping can harden and the custard can cool and set.

*Recipe and photo from Nestle

The 4 Common Causes of Failure in Baking

There are an unlimited number of common reasons why a person may fail at baking something. However, in general, all these reasons can be broken down into four common causes for failure in baking: your ingredients, your equipment, your environment, and yourself. If you understand these four key factors, which contribute to all common baking failures, and set measures to prevent them, you will find that your failing rate will go down. I guarantee it.

1. Your ingredients

One of the four most common causes of baking failure, your ingredients are the most important part of the baking process. Why? Because they make up the final product that you get, of course. It is all too often that people jump into baking without understanding what their ingredients are for, what their ingredients do, and how their ingredients affect the baking process. If you take some time to read up a bit about the ingredients you are using in your baking, and get to understand them better, then there is no doubt that you will definitely improve to the point of not making any mistakes.

Sometimes, you may have unluckily gotten a bad recipe. The recipe either gives you the wrong measurement for ingredients, or maybe it gives you the directions but not very clearly. The problems from this too can be avoided by better understanding of the ingredients, their combinations, and the methods required to mix them.

2. Your equipment

The equipment you use is a very essential part of the baking process, but it is so often overlooked. Just like with your ingredients, you have to understand your equipment well. I’m not saying that you have to be an electrician or mechanic, but at the very least you should know the ins and outs of the baking equipment you use in your own home, and the best equipment for the job. Every single thing you use, from the cake pan to the mixing bowl, can affect your baking and cause you to fail.

It would be impossible to mention every aspect, but just for the sake of illustration let us take the cake pan as an example. Different cake pans will lead to different outcomes for your cake. Dark-colored baking pans will require a lower baking temperature than shiny, light-colored ones. Some cakes require you to grease and flour your cake pans, and some do not.

3. Your environment

Your environment doesn’t cause you to fail as often as the other factors, but it does play tricks on you from time to time. Things like the weather and temperature of the air can affect your baking tremendously. The altitude in which you are baking will affect several factors too. Therefore, it is important that you understand how your environment affects the baking process.

4. Yourself

In the end, all the three factors above lead to the problem of ‘yourself’. It’s because you didn’t understand how your ingredients, your equipment, and your environment affect the baking process that you find yourself presented with the problem of failure. Sometimes you may have been careless, and not followed the directions specified in the recipe correctly. Other times you may have been in a hurry and done everything in a rush without thinking and preparation.

Conclusion

Once you cover these four bases, you will significantly lower your failure rate. And in the unlikely situation that you fail after that, you will probably understand why you failed, and know how to avoid it in the future.

Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies

Hello everyone! And welcome to yet another easy dessert recipe. Things have been very busy here as a very special Valentines Day surprise is being planned for readers. Well, surprise might not be the right word to use in this case. Maybe you could call it a crazy Valentines idea and/or experiment? You might not even be surprised… Well, anyway if you want to be the first to know about what’s being planned in the coming days, just follow this blog on Twitter, or subscribe to the RSS Feed.

Back to our topic today, we have here a very delicious quick and easy dessert recipe from Dessert Express: 100 Sweet Treats You Can Make in 30 Minutes or Less by Lauren Chattman. These chocolate marshmallow cookies are just the thing you need if an impressive dessert that doesn’t take much of your time is what you are looking for. Enjoy:

Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies

Ingredients:

12 Carr’s whole wheat biscuits
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme
8 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions:

Put biscuits on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Top each biscuit with a rounded heaping tablespoonful of marshmallow. Place baking sheet in freezer 10 minutes to firm up.

Combine chocolate and oil in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt in microwave oven on high power 1 to 2 minutes, stirring until smooth. Spoon some chocolate over each biscuit to coat completely. Return baking sheet to freezer for another 10 minutes, until chocolate is set. Refrigerate up to 6 hours, until ready to serve. Makes 12 cookies.

*Recipe and photo from Dessert Express: 100 Sweet Treats You Can Make in 30 Minutes or Less

Easy Mini Molten Chocolate Cakes

Today’s post is a mini version of the popular molten chocolate cake and it can easily be made at home. If you’ve never eaten one before, be careful, because it’s really very delicious. Believe me. You don’t want to eat too much of this easy dessert recipe. I remember once, while I was working, I accidentally ate too much of the molten chocolate cake I made and as a result, I felt so sick the whole day and was stumbling through the bakeshop:

Easy Mini Molten Chocolate Cakes

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature; plus extra for muffin pan
1/3 cup granulated sugar plus extra for muffin pan
3 large eggs
1/3 cup all purpose-flour
¼ teaspoon salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Garnish:
Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
Whipped cream (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Generously butter 4 cups of a standard muffin pan. Dust the pan lightly with granulated sugar, flip over and tap out the excess sugar. Set the pan aside for now.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and 1/3 cup granulated sugar until its fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Set the mixer to low speed, beat in flour and salt until just combined. Beat in the chocolate but (do not over mix). Divide the batter evenly among the 4 prepared muffin cups.

Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, just until the tops of the cakes no longer jiggle when the pan is lightly shaken. Remove the muffin pan from the oven. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Turn the muffin pan over and gently tap the bottom, the cakes should pop out, place them on serving plate’s right side up. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve with whipped cream if desired. Enjoy!

*Recipe and photo from Examiner.com

 
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