How to Make Chocolate Dipped Strawberries (with homemade chocolate)

chocolate dipped strawberriesChocolate dipped strawberries are one of those simple decadent treats that are easy to make and delicious. Often paired with champagne and Valentine’s Day they always give me the feeling of richness and luxury.

Imagine… the red juicy strawberry dipped into firm dark chocolate. As you bite into it, the taste sensation bursts in your mouth with the sweetness of the fruit and the richness of dark chocolate. There is just something about that combination.

chocolate dipped strawberriesEven though chocolate dipped strawberries have this air of luxury and decadence they are actually very easy to make and you can usually make a batch in about 15 minutes. They are also very healthy for you! As strawberries are high in Vitamin C, potassium, folate, fiber and antioxidants, while dark chocolate is high in maganese, iron and copper. And if you make your own chocolate as well, like I do, you can control the amount and type of sugar that goes into it as well! (I always use natural sweeteners, with honey being my top choice).

I often wonder if they’re so good for us why I don’t make them more often? Perhaps it is because they have this air of luxury (in my mind) and I really consider them a treat. (And why don’t we treat ourselves more often? – that is a whole other conversation)

So let’s get to it!

How to Make Chocolate Dipped Strawberries at Home (with homemade dark chocolate)

  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Rinse and pat dry the strawberries. Two tips here – one is to make sure you have fresh firm strawberries, second is to make sure that your strawberries are very very dry after you have rinsed them. If there is any water or moisture on them then the chocolate won’t stick.
  3. chocolate dipped strawberriesPrepare your homemade dark chocolate. I use this very simple method to make my chocolate. No stove involved just a kettle, boiling water and two bowls. It is important to be very careful when making the chocolate that you do not get any water in it as it will change the mixture and your chocolate wont’t turn out. As I said I love using honey as my sweetener but in this case I would use pure maple syrup or liquid stevia, as sometimes the honey does not mix as well and will separate when it sets.
  4. Dip your strawberry into chocolate. Grab strawberry by the green leafy top and dip into the chocolate. Turn and twist your strawberry to get the coverage you want on all sides. Gently place your dipped strawberry on your parchment paper lined cookie sheet and dip the next strawberry.
  5. Once you have dipped all your strawberries place the cookie sheet into the fridge. This helps your chocolate set faster.
  6. If desired, you can dip your strawberries in the chocolate a second time for a thicker covering, better coverage or just more chocolate! You do need to wait until the first layer is set and firm before dipping the second time.
  7. Set back into the fridge until chocolate is set.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

**if you want to get really fancy you can make a batch of white chocolate and drizzle it over the dark chocolate. You would have to let it set again and wait a little longer but it looks great aesthetically, which is great to impress guests if you’re having a party or event.chocolate dipped strawberries

 

Camping Desserts – Sugar Free Banana Boats

IMG_4190As camping season begins, I start to think about all the delicious camping meals and snacks that we enjoy. Planning carefully which ones to include, because we can’t go without the favorites, and which new ones to try.

Growing up we had many favorites, such as tin foil dinners, cinnamon apples, s’mores etc. But when we decided to modify our diets and go sugar free this made some of our favorite camping recipes a little more tricky to enjoy. Slowly but surely I have been figuring out how to adjust them to meet our needs, and not miss out on the delectable tastes!

One of the recipes I have been working on is banana boats. A delectable mix of banana, chocolate and marshmallows, warmed and melted over hot coals from the fire. Mmmm, that mix of melted chocolate marshmallow is to die for! I had figured out early on how to remedy the chocolate situation, having taken a raw organic chocolate making course a few years ago. But it was the marshmallows that stumped me – until last year – when I finally found a recipe to make marshmallows; completely healthy and sugar free!

Cinnamon Apple

Cinnamon Apple

Now that I had all my ingredients we were able to try it out. So one lovely and sunny fall afternoon we packed up what we needed and headed out to Bragg Creek Provincial Park to enjoy a short hike and a fire, where we would enjoy roasted hot dogs and try out the banana boats.

The kids were super excited to get things started! Luke and Chloe listening attentively to the directions on how to make their banana boat. First they needed to eat out a bit of the banana, then put in their chocolate pieces and marshmallows. Then wrapped it up in tin foil and place on the hot coals. Turning once, approximately 4 minutes a side.

Luke and Chloe watched in anticipation, asking if it was ready yet, hoping that by watching it it would cook faster. The trick with banana boats is you want them cooked long enough so that the chocolate and marshmallows melt but do not disintegrate and the banana is warm and soft. Depending on the heat of your coals the cooking time could vary slightly. Notice I said coals. You want those hot red embers, not flame and fire, in order to cook your banana boats. Flame will cause your dessert to burn and cook too fast, and who wants a charred banana? 🙁IMG_4191

Once they were ready we took them out of the fire, using tongs as they are very hot, and placed them on the table. Carefully we unwrapped them and Luke, Chloe and Matthew, spoons in hand, were ready to dig in! I warned them that it would be hot so to let it cool slightly and/or small bites blowing on it. They heeded my advice and tentatively took a bite.  Immediately their faces lit up with hugs smiles and exclamations of how yummy it was! Then quickly diving in for more. All done and faces covered in chocolate, they eagerly asked for another. Unfortunately I had only brought enough for one each, so said we’d have to make them again soon. But I was so pleased that they worked and were a hit! I cannot wait to get out there this camping season and have some more! And this time I will plan for 2 each!

What are your favorite camping desserts? Share in the comments below.

 

Banana Boats

*to make banana boats you will need one banana per person

Firm ripe bananas

sugar free chocolate pieces (either homemade or use unsweetened bakers chocolate)

sugar free marshmallows

heavy duty tinfoil

tongs

spoons

IMG_4188Cut peel of banana down the sides and across top of banana, creating a flap that you can open. Do not cut the bottom. With a spoon eat out part of the banana. Eat/ scoop out enough to create a space to put in chocolate and marshmallows, but do not eat down to the peel on the other side, you want to leave some banana there.

Place chocolate and marshmallow pieces inside banana. You can put in as much as you want but you do not want to overstuff it! The flap must be able to close over top, otherwise a lot of your fillings will leak out while cooking.

Place flap of banana overtop to close it. Take a medium size piece of heavy duty tinfoil (you want heavy duty as putting it in the fire is intense heat and regular foil will cause it to burn before actually cooking), wrap up your banana tightly.

IMG_4189Place tin foil wrapped banana on hot coals and cook for approximately 4 minutes (cooking times may vary depending on the heat of your coals). After first 4 minutes, flip over to the other side and cook for another 4 minutes.

Remove tin foil wrapped banana from fire using tongs. Open foil very carefully, foil will be very hot! Check banana, if chocolate and marshmallows are melted, then you are ready to eat! If it is not melted as much as  you would like, rewrap banana in foil and place back on coals for a few more minutes.

 

Chocolate Additions

In my last post, I shared the basic recipe for making raw organic chocolate. Very easy to do, it is a healthy and delicious way to enjoy chocolate without the guilt!

Now here is the fun part! Once you have the basic chocolate made you can add all kinds of things to your chocolates that not only make them delicious, but also add vitamins and nutrients that are good for you! You can ‘soup up’ your chocolates and no one will even know what’s in there.

I make peppermint Christmas trees and add E3 Live to them, which is a form of algae, very high in protein and minerals. It darkens your chocolates but does not alter the taste, no one would ever know it’s in there. And Matthew loves them and as a result asks me to make them all the time!

Matthew even helps me make chocolates; as it is very easy for kids to do. He loves to experiment so we have made a variety of kinds of chocolate. We make our base chocolate, which is a combination of cacao butter, cacao powder, vanilla bean and sweetener of choice, (see my previous posts for the basics on how to make it and natural sweeteners), then we add different ingredients depending on the kind of chocolate and flavor we want. We make peanut butter cups, caramel cups, orange ginger and peppermint; and this is only what we have done so far – there are many ingredients that can be added to your chocolates to achieve the flavors that you want.

When adding ingredients to chocolate this can be done in a few ways – mix it in, usually with essential oils or powders, you can pour the ingredients on top of the chocolate, after you have poured it onto a cookie sheet, for instance with nuts and seeds, berries, coconut or you can make/ use a filling. The ingredients you add depend on what type of chocolate you want and personal preferences. Here are some ingredients to try.

Nuts such as almonds, brazil nuts, cashews.

Goji berries

Seeds such as hemp seeds, sesame, sunflower or pumpkin.

Berries such as goji, incan or mulberry.

High quality essential oils such as peppermint, orange, wintergreen, etc. to flavor your chocolate. Use only a few drops and use the highest quality oils you can – they are better for you and could alter your chocolate if they are not.

Spices, in a powdered form as it mixes in best, such as ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, allspice.

Algae such as E3 Live, Spirulena or Chlorella. All are very high in protein, minerals and a variety of vitamins.

You can create combinations using ingredients that are high in vitamin C like coconut nectar and spirulena, or a high content of magnesium and calcium using ingredients such as mesquite and carob powder with any algae.

Some people even add medicinal mushrooms to their chocolates, which might sound distasteful, but the neat thing is is you can’t taste it, so would have no idea that it is in there if no one told you. We have recently discovered banana flakes as an addition to our chocolate making. They are quite yummy on their own and are delicious in chocolate.

The amounts you add will depend on the size of your batch of chocolate, how strong a taste you want and also depends on the herb/ spice that is being added (some are stronger than others). A good rule of thumb is to start with half a teaspoon, taste it, and then decide if you want to add more. The great thing about making your own chocolate is that there is lots of taste testing to get it just the way you want it!

Once you have what you want you can set your chocolates in a number of ways. I buy silicon ice cube trays in a various shapes and fill those up to set. (tip – you don’t have to fill these all the way up as your chocolates can be quite thick if you do, but you want to fill them up enough so they are not too thin and break when you pop them out of the molds). There are lots of shapes to choose from; squares to hearts and around the holidays stores usually carry fun shapes related to that holiday. I have snowmen, trees and Halloween pumpkins. You can also use any of the candy molds that stores like Michael’s sell, this is where I found the mold to make peanut butter cups, they also have a variety of themes and shapes.

Of course you do not have to set your chocolate in shapes, you can just pour it onto a cookie sheet, let it set, then break it into pieces. You can also make clusters simply by mixing everything together and then dropping them by the teaspoon onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

For chocolates with fillings, make or find your filling (I use unsweetened peanut butter for my peanut butter cups and make the caramel filling using dates, vanilla, mesquite and lucuma powder), pour some chocolate let it set for a few minutes til firm, then drop or spread the filling over the chocolate, then add more chocolate on top and let set completely.

There are lots of things you can add when making chocolate. Many different flavors and combinations, depending on what you want and what you like. It is also fun to experiment with different combinations, flavors and shapes and it is easy to get the kids involved – they’ll love it. So get in there and try stuff out, worse case scenario is it does not turn out the way you want it and you might have to eat it yourself!