This Valentine's Day, my boyfriend got really lucky.
Alright now, drag your minds from the gutter and look at the picture to your left. Honestly, what else would you call a man who's girlfriend made him a forest of hand dipped dark chocolate strawberries (drizzled with a white chocolate swirls) but lucky?
What with my negative income, I was operating the holiday of love on a pretty limited budget. I cook for my man all the time, and while I know enjoys any cheese covered potato concoction I throw at him, I wanted to do something with a little pizazz to show how much I really care.
Decadent, delicious, and fruit filled, the chocolate strawberry is a perfect and economical gift. Aside from the $4.00 it cost for the strawberries, the bags of Nestle white chocolate and Nestle dark chocolate chips ran me under $5.00. (If your reading this love, I'm lying to the people. Everything was premium and expensive, just like you.)
Conventional wisdom says it's the thought that counts, but I've never much liked that phrase. Usually used to explain away some stupid or useless present that is the epitome of thoughtlessness rather than to give a heartfelt present equal weight to a cold diamond as the saying was most definitely intended to do, I generally throw the "it's the thought that counts" line away with a pair of Hanukkah socks they come with. (I'm kidding, I loved the socks!) However, this holiday, I found myself truly making every thought I had about this gift count, endeavoring to make my budgeted ho hum V-Day present the best it could be.
The other problem I ran across in trying to create a Valentine's Day present for my man was in straddling the line between holiday seasonal and overtly girly. While men don't exactly want pink puppy dogs and glittery hearts adorning their gifts, there's something to be said for holiday cheer, and (admit it ladies) your man will pout if he feels left out - even if being left out means he doesn't get a poofy, fluffy puffball. Thankfully, Target and their wide selection of Valentine's Day doodads helped me tightrope walk the line of romantic and kitch-tastic.
Armed with a pastry box covered in a heart pattern and paper cupcake cups adorned with paper hearts themselves (a near steal at under $5.50 in total), I created the most elegant homemade V-Day gift for under $15.00. And my boyfriend adored it. That's love folks.
Sure, Valentine's Day may have past, but really, isn't this a spectacular time to catch the person you love off guard, serving up this spectacular little treat and letting them know you love them those other 364 days, too?
Or, hey, make them for yourself. Everyone deserves a little chocolate strawberry love.
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
it's hard to say how many strawberries you'll need and thus, the chocolate is kind of an approximation too. start with a half - 3/4 cup of chocolate chips and add more from there. If you don't use it all, well I'm sure you can find other uses for melted chocolate. I've heard it pares quite nicely with a spoon....
1 package of Strawberries
3/4 cup of dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup of white chocolate chips
2 teaspoons of (vegetable or jungle) shortening
a Styrofoam lid or container of some kind
a small sandwich bag
Prepare strawberries by washing them, cutting off any bad spots, a sticking a toothpick in their leafy end.
In a large microwaveable bowl, heat 3/4 of a cup of dark chocolate chips and 2 teaspoons of vegetable shortening on high for 30 seconds. Remove, stir, and heat for another 30 seconds, continuing to do so until the chocolate has melted.
Pick up a strawberry with the toothpick stuck in it and dunk it into the melted chocolate, swirling it around so as to cover it and giving a good flick of your wrist upon bring it up, to prevent dripping. Stick the toothpick firmly into the Styrofoam and repeat until all of the strawberries have been dunked and covered.
If your chocolate starts to seize, quickly add a little more shortening and microwave it again. You may want to cover the Styrofoam with a paper towel if you'll be needing to use it again and don't want it permanently covered in chocolate.
While the chocolate covered strawberries are drying, pour about 1/4 of a cup of white chocolate chips into a sandwich bag. Fill a cup or bowl up with very hot water and dunk the bag into the water for a few seconds, pulling it out to knead the chips, melting them, and repeating the process until the chips have been well melted. (You'll be doing this quickly enough that you shouldn't need to worry about the plastic melting and getting into your food - or so I've been told, feel free to correct if I'm wrong!)
Cut a tiny section off the tip of the bad and decorate the strawberries as you please. Swirls, dots, haphazard lines. Anything goes with chocolate. Refrigerate until dry and serve as desired, remembering to refrigerate the left overs!