Are You Ready for Valentine's Day?
When it comes to holidays, I don’t know if there is one that can divide people as much as Valentine’s Day. While some may lean into the romantic side of the holiday, others view the day as a holiday marketed by luxury brands. While I may be more romantic at heart, I can understand how Valentine’s Day is considered as a money maker. Jewelry, perfumes, and other high-end items are plastered throughout advertisements as desired gifts. But if you’re feeling stressed about choosing a gift, handmade chocolate-covered strawberries will impress any date without spending a small fortune.
Chocolate-Covered Strawberries Are a Valentine's Day Classic
Strawberries and chocolate have long been associated with romance. But why are chocolate-covered strawberries a famous Valentine’s Day treat? As it turns out, chocolate and strawberries contain aphrodisiacs, making chocolate-covered strawberries a Valentine’s Day staple. This recipe takes the treat a step further by adding a cream cheese filling in the middle. Turning the strawberry stem into a cover creates the illusion that the strawberry has not been cut and filled. It’s a more hands-on process than covering in chocolate or filling alone, but surprising a loved one is worth it!
Choosing Ingredients for Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
When making chocolate-covered strawberries at home, you have the luxury of choosing the ingredients. I prefer bittersweet or dark chocolate, but you can also use milk chocolate. For a decorative finish, add a drizzle of white chocolate. Another option is to coat the strawberries with white chocolate and then with a milk or dark chocolate drizzle. No matter which design you choose, I follow the general rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t eat the chocolate by itself, don’t use it as an ingredient. It will be a dominant flavor and should be enjoyed.
Create an Illusion By Covering Stuffed Strawberries
I love combining chocolate and cream cheese when making chocolate-covered strawberries, but the presentation was always challenging. Strawberries dipped in chocolate with the stem intact create an eye-catching design, and the stem provides a point to hold the strawberry. Typically, stuffed strawberry recipes cut an X into the base or create a hollow to fill. It looks like a dessert version of a deviled egg, and I prefer the classic dipped strawberry look. This recipe maintains the elegance and simplicity of a chocolate-covered strawberry but packs the flavor of cream cheese inside. Using the strawberry top as a lid, the chocolate acts as a glue to hold the top and conceal the cut.
Choose Your Own Strawberry Adventure
The great thing about chocolate-covered strawberries is that no baking is involved. With many baking recipes, there isn’t much room for adjustments. If one ingredient is left out or too much is added, it may ruin the bake. With chocolate-covered strawberries, you can make adjustments at any point. Following this recipe step by step will require about two hours, depending on how fast you work. If you wish to cut back on the recipe time or leave out the cream cheese, steps can be skipped or adjusted.
The Cream Cheese Filling is Optional
To save time, you can skip stuffing the strawberries. Alternatively, you can still fill the strawberries but discard the stem and pipe the cream cheese with a decorative tip. If you love white chocolate, you can coat the strawberries in white chocolate first and decorate them with dark or milk chocolate. Consider the recipe a guide more than anything else. I’ve added some notes throughout the recipe if you choose different steps.
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 18 strawberries
- 10 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped
- 4 oz white chocolate chopped
Preparing the Cream Cheese Filling (Optional)
- Combine the room-temperature cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract in a stand mixer.
- Mix on low speed until the cream cheese is smooth and no sugar clumps remain.
- Transfer the filling to a piping bag with a rounded tip. (If you will dip the strawberries without the tops, use a star tip to create a decorative effect.) Store the piping bag in your fridge while preparing the strawberries.
Prepare the Strawberries
- Rinse and pat dry the strawberries with a paper towel. When water comes in contact with melted chocolate, it creates clumps that are difficult to remove. If you are only covering the strawberries in chocolate, skip the next section.
Carving and Filling The Strawberries (Optional)
- Cut off the top of each strawberry a quarter inch below the stem. Keep the tops if you're creating the illusion of whole berries. Make sure to keep each strawberry matched with the top. Discard the tops if dipping the strawberries where the cream cheese is visible.
- With a melon baller or strawberry huller, create a hollow in the center of each strawberry. Be careful not to cut too close to the walls of the strawberry.
- Remove the cream cheese filling from the fridge, and pipe the filling into each strawberry hollow, only filling to the cut line. If you are not covering the berries, you can fill them above the cut line. Next, place the strawberries onto a tray lined with paper towels to draw away any exterior moisture. Skip to the next section if you are not covering the berries.
- To create the illusion, replace the tops onto each filled strawberry, and pierce a toothpick straight down through the stem. If the toothpick pierces through the base, it's okay.
Melting the Base Chocolate Layer
- If you have a double boiler, fill the bottom pot with an inch of water. If you don't have a double boiler, you can use a pot and a heat-safe glass bowl placed on top of the pot.
- Over medium-low heat, start to warm the water with the upper boiler or bowl set aside. Once steam starts rising from the water's surface, place the bowl or boiler on top of the pot. Add the base chocolate chosen. With a silicone spatula, stir the chocolate every minute until fully melted. Lower the heat to a slight simmer to prevent the chocolate from burning.
- Place the tray of strawberries near the double boiler. On the opposite side of the stove, line a baking tray with parchment paper. If dipping strawberries without the tops, skip to the next section.
Covering Illusion Strawberries
- Grasp each strawberry by gathering the stems around the toothpick and holding the strawberry upside down.
- Scoop chocolate onto the spatula and pour it over the strawberry. Tilt the strawberry to allow the chocolate to flow to the underside. Use the spatula to spread the chocolate evenly, and cover the cut line with the chocolate. The chocolate holds the strawberry top in place.
- Once coated, place each strawberry onto the parchment paper with the toothpick still inserted. Once the strawberries are coated, chill them in the fridge until the chocolate hardens. Skip the next section.
For Unstuffed or Exposed Creamcheese Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
- Hold the strawberries with your fingers gripping along the cut line or by the stem.
- Dip the strawberries straight down into the chocolate, swirling the berry around to cover all sides. Raise the strawberry out of the chocolate, allowing any excess to drip off back into the chocolate.
- Placed the covered berries onto a tray lined with parchment paper.
- Once all of the strawberries are coated, chill them in the fridge until the chocolate hardens.
Adding Decorative Touches
- While the chocolate base hardens, clean and dry the upper double boiler, piping bag, and spatula.
- Attach a small round tip to the piping bag. A smaller tip will create a thinner drizzle.
- Melt the chocolate for a decorative drizzle using a double-boiler or microwave.
- Remove the chocolate-covered strawberries from the fridge, and place the tray on a working surface. Pipe the decorative chocolate over each strawberry creating a pattern of your choice.
- Place the tray back into the fridge for a final chill
Remove the Toothpicks and Serving
- Once the drizzled chocolate hardens, remove the strawberries from the fridge.
- If you made illusion chocolate-covered strawberries, remove the toothpick from each strawberry.
- Transfer the strawberries to a platter, and keep them chilled until ready to serve.
Chocolate-Covered Strawberries Storage Tips
When planning how many strawberries are needed, I suggest three strawberries per person as a dessert. And for those over 21, I usually pair this recipe with a bottle of cabernet wine. The sweetness of the cream cheese and strawberries pair beautifully with dry wines. If you prefer white wine, champagne or riesling are great pairing options.
Chocolate-covered strawberries are best eaten within 24 hours of preparation for the best flavor. If you have leftover strawberries, they can be stored in an air-tight container for up to two days. After two days, the juices from the strawberries will start to soak through the bottom of the chocolate and break down inside. As strawberries ripen, ethylene is released. The chocolate traps that gas inside, causing the ripening process to speed up. To preserve the flavor and freshness, take advantage of your freezer!
How to Freeze Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
If you made more chocolate-covered strawberries than you intended, don’t let them go to waste! Instead, you can freeze chocolate-covered strawberries to extend their shelf life and enjoy them months after Valentine’s Day. To do so:
- Select a cookie sheet wide enough to lay the berries in a single layer and line it with parchment paper.
- Arrange the chocolate-covered strawberries in a single layer and transfer the sheet to a freezer.
- Once the strawberries are frozen solid, transfer them to an air-tight freezer-safe container and record the frozen-on date.
When you wish to have a chocolate-covered strawberry, remove how many you plan to have from the freezer. Allow them to thaw in the fridge for about 4 hours before consuming them. That will give time for the cream cheese to thaw and prevent biting into a hard center. For the best flavor, consume frozen strawberries within three months of the frozen-on date.