Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Making Chocolate Covered Strawberries with Children

When children come to visit for a few days you have to think of lots of ways to entertain them. For me, well, there are just so many trips I can take to the Maritime Aquarium and the Stamford Nature Center. They are both terrific places, we are members and we go often, but it doesn’t add up to a whole weekend.

So this weekend, when my grandchildren Lila (age 5) and Remy (almost one year old) stayed over, Lila and I took a ride to Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk to see the talking cow, the model railroad train that scoots around the store, the singing lettuce and celery, egg laying chickens and milk cartons. And the acrobatic lobsters. And other things to keep the kids amused while you shop for corn muffins, green beans and milk.

We had 4 things to buy but on the way in we saw these fabulous looking local strawberries. They looked a thousand times better than the regular boxed, overgrown, tasteless berries that have the texture of wet tissue paper. They smelled like cotton candy, the way real strawberries smell. We bought two quart size boxes and decided to make chocolate covered strawberries for her Mom and Dad, who were coming back that afternoon.

We went home with 5 bags full of groceries, including 3 of the 4 things we actually went in for.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries are among the easiest recipes to make with kids, even a 5 year old. And there’s so much to talk about when you’re in the process!

First I told Lila about why I bought the local, small, ruby red berries rather than the orange ones from who-knows-where that are grown for transport. I had Lila smell both boxes of berries and she agreed that the ones we picked smelled much better. 

Then we talked about what kind of chocolate we would use (Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips) and why I melted the chocolate in a double boiler (because chocolate burns easily over direct heat).

I added some vegetable shortening to the chocolate so it would dry firm, like chocolate candies — this is a short cut that you can use if you don’t want to go to the bother of tempering (too fussy to do with kids). It’s not as upscale as tempered chocolate, not as shiny, but it works.

We talked about washing the berries and drying them so the melted chocolate would cling better. About waiting and having patience until the chocolate firmed up.

Then I showed her how to dip one berry and she did the rest. We had enough leftover melted chocolate mixture to use on a bunch of raisins.

Of course there were the usual things said about washing hands, about the tools (I used a whisk) and cleaning up after cooking (AFTER licking the bowl and whisk) and so on. 

Here are some photos of our strawberry fest. Lila with the ingredients. Lila, dipping a berry in the melted chocolate. One tasting a little sample of the chocolate. And voila! The chocolate coated berries.

Aren’t they beautiful? (I mean the kid and the berries.)

They sure were good. (I mean the kid and the berries.)

This recipe is enough for about 24 strawberries and 1/3 cup raisins.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

24 medium strawberries

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (one cup) or chopped chocolate

1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

Wash and dry the berries but leave the hull intact. Set aside. Melt the chocolate and vegetable shortening in the top part of a double boiler over medium-low heat, stirring until the chocolate and shortening melt. Whisk ingredients to blend them into a smooth, silky sauce. Dip the berries in the chocolate, about 3/4 way up the sides of the berries. Place them on waxed or parchment paper to dry (about 2 hours). Makes 24