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I  had better finish up my 10 ideas for strawberries before strawberries go out of season! Fortunately this idea is good for fresh cherries too, not to mention figs.

Chocolate dipped strawberries(cherries, figs…)  are easy and fun to make.  Any child (of any age) would love to help you with dipping. Choose a brand of chocolate that you love to nibble. (And choose a bar of chocolate rather than chocolate chips or anything called “chocolate coating,” even if it is sold in the same aisle as the fruit. Chocolate chips won’t melt well, and the so called chocolate coating sold in the produce aisle is not delicious enough. No need to “temper” the chocolate to keep it shiny: the secret to preventing the chocolate from turning gray and streaky is to dry and chill the fruit before dipping, then refrigerate it as soon after dipping as possible.

CHOCOLATE DIPPED STRAWBERRIES

Serves 15 or more

Ingredients

About 2 pints small or medium strawberries (with or without stems), or up to 36 large

strawberries with stems, or 1 ¼ pounds cherries with stems

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or milk or white chocolate, finely chopped

Equipment

Cookie sheets

Fluted paper candy cups (optional)
Rinse the fruit gently and spread it out on a tray lined with paper towels. The fruit should be as dry as possible before dipping; if necessary, pat it dry or use a cupped hand to cradle each piece gently in a soft dishtowel or a paper towel. Refrigerate until chilled.


Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper. Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl, preferably stainless steel. Bring an inch of water to a simmer in a wide skillet. If using semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, set the bowl directly in the skillet and keep the water at a bare simmer. If using milk or white chocolate, turn the heat off under the skillet and wait for 60 seconds before putting the bowl in the hot water.

Stir dark chocolate frequently, milk and white chocolate almost constantly, until almost entirely melted, then remove the bowl, wipe the bottom dry, and stir to finish melting the chocolate. The chocolate should be warm and fluid, but not hot. Grasp fruit by the stem or the shoulders and dip it about two-thirds of the way into the chocolate, or deeper if you like. Lift the fruit above the chocolate and shake off the excess, letting it drip back into the bowl, then very gently wipe a little excess chocolate from one side of the fruit on the edge of the bowl, set it on a lined cookie sheet, wiped side down, and slide it forward slightly to prevent a puddle of chocolate from forming at the tip. Refrigerate each tray as soon as it’s filled, and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Serve any time after the chocolate has set enough that you can peel the fruit cleanly from the parchment. Transfer each one to a fluted candy cup, if desired.

If you are making chocolate dipped cherries, be sure to warn you guests that the cherries all have pits!

For more ideas for strawberries, see recent posts and my new book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts (Artisan 2012) by Alice Medrich 

STRAWBERRIES IN RED WINE

Open a modest bottle of red for this, or use wine left from a party. It's even ok to mix different kinds…no one will know.

Pour red wine over whole or halved ripe strawberries, adding about 2 tablespoons of sugar (to taste) per cup of wine and a squeeze of lemon juice. Macerate at room temperature for up to an hour, and then chill for up to an hour. Serve the fruit with some of it’s liquid.
 
Here is the bonus: 
After the strawberries are gone you may have lots of liquid left in the serving bowl. Simmer it until it has thickened to a syrupy sauce. Serve over vanilla ice cream, with or without new fresh strawberries. 
 
Photo by Sang An

 

For more ideas for strawberries, see recent and upcoming posts.  Also see my new book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts(Artisan 2012) by Alice Medrich, page 48. 

Love To Cook, Hate To Bake?

May 19th, 2012 by Alice Medrich

My eighth book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts is just out. You might be thinking, “what, another dessert book, can’t she give it a rest?”
What’s new, fun, and interesting about Sinfully? 
After seven books, I’ve shifted my perspective from baker to cook. I’ve always noticed that people who love (and are good at) baking think and learn differently than people who love (and are good at) cooking.  How many fantastic Top Chef candidates get knocked out of the competition because they can’t make a good dessert?  How many good home cooks put out fabulous, seemingly effortless meals with a store-bought dessert finale? Maybe this is you. Maybe you find baking too finicky or constraining. Maybe you like to taste and adjust as you cook; maybe you hate to follow a recipe exactly, or don’t like to measure precisely.  Maybe your cakes and cookies are more like doorstops and paperweights…
All cooks need simple sensational little desserts up their sleeves: clever easy things to do with fruit or ice cream, or a lightening quick gingerbread, a great little sauce, compote, or pudding, or a easier-than-it-looks soufflé.  We all need recipes that are simple but not simple minded, terrific but not time consuming, compelling but not complicated.
My editor (a very stylish cook who hates to bake) delights in saying that Sinfully is the dessert book with no pastry bags, pastry brushes, rolling pins, offset spatulas, or baking skills!
Visit my brand new and beautiful website (see previous post!) at http://alicemedrich.com/ to learn more about the book or check out my touring schedule. Maybe I will see you this week in Petaluma, San Diego, Westlake Village, New York (in late summer), or elsewhere in the Fall. 

Alice In Videoland

April 13th, 2012 by Alice Medrich

Chatting with a serious documentary filmmaker decades before there was SO much food on TV, I expressed the opinion that the processes involved with chocolate and dessert making would look good on film.  She didn’t really get it! I explained how visual it all was: luxurious chocolate glaze flowing over a cake, up-close brush stokes marbleizing that glaze with milk chocolate so it looks like Italian or French art paper, deckle-edge ruffles of pure chocolate pealing off of a sheet pan, even the technique of beating and folding egg whites properly, lovingly, expertly, into a chocolaty batter. I thought it could be instructional andexquisitely beautiful. She looked dubious. I kid you not.

Decades later we have endless food TV—so what else is new?

Recently my publisher proposed that I teach video classes to support the launch of Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts (out next month, btw). We discussed the recipes during a very enthusiastic conference call with the lifestyle editor at craftsy.com, who would be our partner in this video adventure. In the back of my mind, I was vaguely disappointed. I was finally doing video, but with the wrong content! I love my new book, but Sang An’s photography is already amazing, and the whole point of Sinfully Easy is that no one needs video to succeed with the recipes!

Then a miracle happened. The Craftsy team “remembered” that their audience of passionate crafters and DIY-ers loves ambitious projects and are eager to learn technique. They want to learn skills, not just recipes. Sinfully Easy was too damn —easy (yay!)—and thus not ideal for video. Would I consider scrapping the original plan and coming up with a list of more challenging desserts?

It took me three minutes to get a new menu on paper.

The course launched last week and you can see a little preview of it here: http://www.craftsy.com/class/Decadent-Chocolate-Cakes/64