Friday, May 2, 2008

Experimenting with chocolate-dipped fruit

While some friends and I were chowing down on meat fondue last month, the conversation turned to chocolate fondue, then to Godiva's expensive chocolate-dipped strawberries, then how easy it is to make your own.

"But, but!" I protested. "When I put it on the wax paper to chill, it gets all gloppy and ugly!"

And so one of my friends shared his sister's method for dipping fruit in chocolate, which I tried last night:
  • Find a piece of Styrofoam. You can buy some in the flower arranging section of your local crafting store. I know, I know, it's not politically correct to use Styrofoam anymore. If you can rescue some from work (ever get any shipments of fragile items?) it should help ease your conscience.
  • Spear a piece of fruit -- a strawberry, a banana slice, a cube of Gala apple -- on a bamboo kebob skewer. Run the fruit over cool tap water but do not dry it. Stick the skewers into the Styrofoam and freeze for a few minutes.
  • While the fruit is in time-out, build a makeshift double-boiler out of a saucepan and a glass bowl: Put an inch or two of water in the saucepan and bring it to a light simmer. Nest the glass bowl in the saucepan. It helps if the bowl is slightly larger than the saucepan and/or has a lip.
  • Break a good-quality chocolate bar into pieces and put it in the bowl. Stir the chocolate to help it melt evenly.
  • Get the fruit from the freezer. Dip the fruit into the chocolate and return the skewers to the Styrofoam.
  • Chill the fruit in the fridge until the chocolate has solidified. Be sure to store the fruit in the fridge until it's all gone.
Tips and Tricks:
  • If you're using dark chocolate, keep some milk on hand, because the chocolate will thicken. I used 72% dark chocolate, and it got very thick. If this happens to you, add a tiny bit of milk until the chocolate reaches a consistency somewhere between "drinkable" and "something you'd pour over a sundae."
  • Don't let the water boil! Few things smell and taste worse than burning chocolate!
  • Keep the water out of the chocolate. It turns the whole thing into a sticky, icky mess.
  • Get a mini fondue pot that melts chocolate with a tea light and skip jury-rigging a double boiler!
  • Chop some nuts and sprinkle them on the freshly-dipped fruit.

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