Chocolate Sunday – Chocolate Strawberries, and Chocolate Pomegranate Clusters!

I’ve been making chocolate-covered strawberries for years, but this week I learned something new about the process.

chocolate strawberries & pomegranate clustersIt hadn’t occurred to me to look for instructions – how hard is it to melt chocolate and dip strawberries in it? But, because I was planning to blog about it, I looked online to see what was already there.

I found this recipe, which recommends placing the strawberries stem-side down to allow the chocolate to dry. Light-bulb moment – I realized that my chocolate never dried smoothly in the past because I placed the strawberries sideways, not upright. There was always a flat side to the chocolate.

chocolate strawberries on cookie sheetThe recipe also suggests placing the fresh-dipped strawberries on a wire rack. I missed that bit, probably because I was multi-tasking and had already put waxed paper on a cookie sheet. Strawberry stems are not inherently flat, and some of them didn’t want to stand up. But if I was very careful about placing them just so against the sides of the sheet, I was able to compensate for that.

Strawberries are on the “dirty dozen” produce list, so I try to buy organic when I can to avoid pesticides. I had found gorgeous strawberries at Organic Garage, and wanted to make sure to use them quickly.

I used only the perfect ones for dipping, and cut up the rest for breakfast the next morning.

You can melt almost any chocolate for dipping. I used three squares each from two large Lindt chocolate bars, one with 70 percent cacao content (“dark”) and the other with 85 percent (“intense dark”). The dark chocolate is twice as sweet as the intense dark (8 grams of sugar per three squares, compared to 4), and I thought the mix would be a good compromise.

After I dipped the strawberries, I coated pomegranate seeds with the remaining chocolate. In all, there was enough chocolate for about 15 strawberries and just over a dozen pomegranate clusters.

The strawberries looked more elegant, but the pomegranate seed clusters were more interesting, with fruity bursts of liquid inside each bite-sized cluster.

My niece makes chocolate blueberry clusters, which are equally refreshing. I thought about making them too, and found a recipe here. But in the end, I had just the right ratio of chocolate to fruit without the blueberries.

Chocolate Strawberries, and Chocolate Pomegranate Clusters

15 perfect strawberries

1/3 to 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (I’m guessing the amount; forgot to measure!)

3 squares Lindt dark chocolate (from 100-gram bar)

3 squares Lindt intense dark chocolate (from 100-gram bar)

1. Line cookie sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper.

2. Wash strawberries, and dry gently but thoroughly with paper towel.

3. Spread pomegranate seeds on paper towel to dry, placing more paper towel on top of the seeds to dry them completely.

4. Melt chocolate in pyrex bowl on low heat in microwave, checking frequently to make sure it doesn’t overheat. Great instructions here, if you want more information.

5. Stir chocolate to ensure it is completely melted, and to combine the two types.

6. Dip dried strawberries into chocolate, letting excess chocolate drip back into bowl.

7. Place strawberries stem-side down on lined cookie sheet to dry.

8. Add dried pomegranate seeds to remaining chocolate, and stir together to coat the seeds.

9. Using two teaspoons, form clusters of pomegranate seeds, and place on cookie sheet to dry.

10. Put cookie sheet in fridge for 15 minutes to allow chocolate to set, or leave at room temperature until set.


Carrot Parsnip & Apple Soup

I don’t remember ever making carrot soup, but a friend of mine made one a few weeks ago that was so good and sounded so easy, it inspired me to try one myself.

carrot soupI consulted three or four recipes, looked in my fridge, and started cooking. Soups are great for experimenting with different combinations of flavours and ingredients. I like a thick, hearty soup for winter, so I usually go heavy on the vegetables, and light on the liquid. You can always thin out the soup later by adding water, a bit at a time.

I used baby carrots because I had them on hand, plus it meant less work (no need to chop them), and I used organic Royal Gala apples, my favourite variety. Apples are one of the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated by pesticides, and I make a point of buying organic ones when I can.

The soup was flavourful and more than enough for the 10 people at my table on a Friday night a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s my recipe:

Carrot Parsnip & Apple Soup

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 onion

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

fresh ginger, grated

1/4 tsp. curry powder (or more to taste)

2 lbs. baby carrots (or 2 lbs, large carrots, cut in chunks)

1 lb. parsnips, cut in chunks

2 apples, peeled and chopped

7 cups water

2-3 tbsp. fresh chopped dill

1. Heat oil in large pot on medium high until one piece of onion starts to sizzle. Add garlic, rest of onion, fresh ginger to taste, and curry powder. Sauté two minutes.

2. Add carrots, parsnips and apples. Stir together with onion mixture, then add water.

3. Bring to boil.

4. Reduce heat, and simmer covered until vegetables and apples are soft, about 35 minutes.

5. Add dill, and cook five more minutes.

6. Purée with immersion blender.