Freshly-Dipped Chocolate-Coated Fruit and Nuts
Adapted from Still Life with Menu
Preparation time: 30 to 40 minutes
Yield: At least 6 servings (You can always make more!)
Hand-dipping chocolates sounds
complicated, but it's a surprisingly straightforward operation that
is only a little bit messy. Just be sure you do this on a day that
is not too hot or humid. (I think this is why they decided to have
Valentine's Day in February.)
The idea is very simple. Melt plain semisweet
chocolate, and then select an assortment of delicious little
morsels to dip into it. (I used to melt some butter in with the
chocolate, but in recent years I have discovered this to be
unnecessary.) After the morsels are dipped, place them on a plate
that has been coated with nonstick spray, and refrigerate until the
chocolate hardens. The only equipment required is a double boiler
(can be make-shift), a plate, a spoon, and possibly a fork.
My own favorite dipping items include whole
unhulled strawberries, dried apricots and mangos, various nuts, and
raisins. I'm sure there are many other possibilities that you can
dream up for your own customized chocolate-dipping adventures. With
fresh fruit, of course, much depends upon the season. And the
amounts below are highly flexible and subjective. Go by feel and by
visuals. You can do it–it's easy!
NOTE: To make a large quantity, it's best
to melt the chocolate in serial batches than to do a large amount
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
Fresh strawberries ( up to a pint)
1 cup dried apricots (the whole, plump kind)
1 cup dried mango
1 cup nuts (whole almonds or cashews, halved pecans and
1/2 cup raisins
- Break or chop the chocolate into small pieces approxiimately
the size of chocolate chips. (Or use semisweet chocolate chips
altogether.) Place the pieces in the top of a double boiler, or in
a heat-proof bowl. Place over hot or simmering (not boiling) water
until the chocolate melts. Try not to stir it, and don't
accidentally splash any water into it, or it will seize up.
Chocolate melted this way, over low heat and left unagitated, will
melt smoothly and nicely, and retain a glossy shine.
- While the chocolate is melting, spray a few dinner plates with
- When the chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat. Stab the
various pieces of fruit with a fork, and carefully dip them, one by
one, in the chocolate, cloaking them completely or just partially.
For nuts or raisins, use a spoon (spray it with nonstick spray
first). When the tidbits are coated to your liking, transfer them
to the prepared plates. Try to work relatively quickly, so the
chocolate won't have time to harden.
- Let the coated morsels solidify on the plates, then transfer to
a lovely, doily-lined platter for serving. If the weather is warm
or your kitchen is hot from the oven being on, try to find a cool
place to let them sit. The refrigerator is OK, if they're not in
there too long, and they are covered with plastic wrap.