I can never resist making a few indulgent treats at this time of the year. Valentine’s Day and chocolate go hand-in-hand so I whipped up this trio consisting of chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate hearts and chocolate macarons. I made these yesterday evening after work and even though I was nearly falling asleep in the kitchen by the end of it; it was totally worth it. They’re fun to look at and even more fun to eat!
To make chocolate dipped strawberries, I find that 100g of chocolate will usually cover a 250g punnet of strawberries. I like to use dark chocolate for a more intense taste. To start, rinse the strawberries. Always keep in mind that chocolate hates water so be sure to pat the strawberries dry with a paper towel. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a small pot of simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bowl!). When the chocolate becomes thick and runny, dip in the strawberries one by one. Work quickly but carefully so that each piece is half covered. Leave them aside in a cool, dry place to set — preferably on a large plastic sheet or board. If you like, you can drizzle on a little white chocolate at the end for a finishing touch.
It’s easy to pick up a good silicone mould for less than a fiver. There are so many fun-shaped varieties out there and the fact that they can be used in the oven and freezer make them extremely versatile. I used my heart mould to make elegant individual chocolates. For 12 pieces, I melted roughly 50g of dark chocolate for the first layer. I divided it out evenly and once that had completely set, I then melted roughly 50g of white chocolate. Again, I carefully poured the white chocolate in to each heart and allowed it to set over the dark chocolate. Finally, I melted roughly 50g of milk chocolate and used that to top off each heart. Once it’s completely set, it’s so satisfying to pop out each heart and see beautiful triple-layered chocolates!
I attempted to make macrons, one of my all-time favourite treats, for the first time last night. At least I think it was the first time — I have a feeling I might have tried them before but perhaps the experience was so bad that I’ve blocked it out of my head! I followed a recipe in a random book I had to hand and they turned out…not too bad. For a first (or maybe second) attempt, I was happy enough. I did make some simple rookie mistakes. Firstly, I forgot to pick up cocoa powder and only had a measly tablespoon of the stuff in the house so that had to do. Then I tried to pipe the mixture on to the baking sheet, as the book instructed but — as I have very little piping experience — that didn’t go so well…Finally I set the oven to 180 instead of 130 and only realised halfway through. Anyway in the end, they tasted fairly good and sure once I paired them off with chocolate ganache between them; they were very acceptable (heat 100ml of fresh cream to scalding point and stir in 100g of chocolate and you’ll have a magical mixture that will instantly improve the taste of any baked good).
So there you have it! Three tasty chocolate treats that are perfect for nibbling on this Valentine’s. If, like me, you end up making slightly more than you really should have under one roof; be sure to share them out and spread the love. I brought the chocolate hearts in to work and they were a big hit. They would be lovely with a glass of something bubbly but as it turned out, they tasted just as good with an afternoon cuppa ;-).