November 4, 2009 § 4 Comments
With the weather becoming more miserable by the hour and the cold creeping in through every corner it was time to heat things up a little. Being Indian, I’m predisposed to liking the taste of chilli, so when I saw Lindt’s chilli chocolate on offer in Waitrose the other day I simply had to have it. Chilli and chocolate, which otherwise go very well together in a Mexican dish by a similar name, is a divine combination. The dark chocolate simply melts in your mouth leaving a fiery afterthought. The idea of chilli-chocolate is by no means a radical new one though, apparently the Mayans and Aztecs were incredibly fond of the flavours and chilli-chocolate has been popular in South America and Mexico since this time.
Having racked my brains as to how I could put this exquisite ingredient to use, I finally lingered upon the memory of balsamic dark chocolate-dipped strawberries I had at my friend Spence’s birthday picnic. A very unusual but successful combination – perhaps another unusual combination like chilli and chocolate may be quite tasty when put together with strawberries?
So I got to work, and what with the price of strawberries these days (I’m shaking my fist at you, Tesco) I ended up having to delay this delectable treat for a few days until my Sainsburys delivery came to the rescue (once again). My strawberries finally arrived, plump and bright red, in the arms of a drenched delivery man. It was time to get started:
- 40g dark chilli-chocolate (I used Lindt’s chilli chocolate)
- 40g 85% dark chocolate (again, Lindt is good but the better quality, the more exquisite the taste)
- 10 large strawberries, ideally with long stems
Firstly you’ll need to chop up the chocolate so that it melts more easily; this should be easily achieved using a sharp knife, slicing down the chocolate in 5mm slices so it fragments (as in the above photograph). Once both types of chocolate have been sliced up, put aside. Pick out your large strawberries, ensuring they do not have any rot and aren’t over-ripe. Wash them gently under a cold tap.
Pat them dry on a tea towel or kitchen paper to get rid of excess water – if the water gets into your chocolate when you dip the strawberries in, it ain’t pretty. To melt the chocolate you’ll need to set up a double boiler, or if you’re well-equipped you’ll have a bain-marie to hand. If not, you can set one up very simply, just put 1-2 inches of boiling hot water in a saucepan over a low heat, and set a glass bowl above it, not touching the water. This separates the chocolate from the pan and the water and so the heat from the boiling water will effectively heat the glass bowl and melt the chocolate. Meanwhile, halve your strawberries as so, and once your double boiler is set up, scoop all of your dark chocolate fragments into the bowl at the top.
Once your chocolate has melted to a smooth, shiny consistency, you can either reduce your heat to the minimum or switch it off altogether. At this point you should line a baking sheet with some parchment paper and set it next to the double boiler.
Then you can start dipping! Hold the strawberries by the leaves or long stems at the top, then dip into the melted chocolate, coating thoroughly and twisting the strawberry as you take it out to ensure smooth edges. Set the coated strawberries onto the baking sheet, leaving a little space in between each of the halves.
By the time I had finished dipping my strawberries the sun was already setting!
Once all of your strawberries have been dipped and set onto the parchment paper, put them into the refridgerator to chill for 10-15 minutes, so the chocolate hardens. They will lose their sheen, but will be ready more quickly – if you want them to stay shiny, you could try leaving them out until they are set but it’ll take a lot longer!
The result is a gorgeous treat, that is a lovely gift (especially for Valentine’s, which is ages away) that has a naughty kick to it, subtle but definitely suggestive.