Chocolate covered strawberries are perfect for giving as gifts, using on top of cakes of cupcakes for a stunning presentation, or just eating out of hand for a special treat! Learn how to easily temper dark, milk or white chocolate for chocolate covered strawberries using the seeding method for tempering.
I love-love-love chocolate-covered strawberries. They are easily one of my all-time favorite treats. But they are so expensive! Like, sometimes even $4-6 dollars for just one strawberry! It’s crazy! So a few years ago I figured, why not learn how to make them myself? How hard could it be? And this is where I went down the chocolatiering rabbit hole.
I have attempted chocolate covered strawberries in the past by just melting chocolate chips with a little shortening. That method is okay, but definitely not the same quality of chocolate that you get from a real chocolatier. Same with chocolate bark or chocolate candy coatings that sometimes come in bags of discs that melt easily. Although they melt smoothly and set up quickly and seem similar to chocolate, it’s just not the same flavor as real, properly tempered dark, milk, or white chocolate. And it turns out I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to chocolate.
It also turns out that tempering REAL chocolate and using it to make chocolate covered strawberries (or truffles or almonds or whatever else your heart desires) isn’t that difficult! At least, not when you use the seeding method where you take already tempered chocolate, melt part of it down to bring it out of temper, then slowly bring the temperature back down by reintroducing the remaining solid, tempered chocolate.
Start with good, quality chocolate.
You can order good, quality chocolate online or find it in many kitchen supply stores. Or just buy your favorite bars of quality chocolate at the supermarket, as long as they are just solid chocolate without anything mixed into them, although buying the smaller bars is going to a be a more expensive route. I like to go to Trader Joe’s, which sells 1 lb. blocks of excellent dark or milk chocolate at a very good price of around $5/block. Enough to make literally dozens of chocolate covered strawberries for the price of maybe one strawberry from a fancy chocolatier or candy store.
If you are hoping to do white chocolate, I would recommend ordering online because it can be harder to find in stores and the “melting wafers” from the craft store are usually just “candy melts” and not real white chocolate at all.
Temper at least 1 lb. of chocolate at a time.
The Seeding Method
To temper chocolate using the seeding method, start by chopping 3/4 of your total chocolate, reserving 1/4 of the chocolate block in bar form for later.
Transfer the chopped chocolate into a clean, dry bowl and set it over a pan of hot water. I like to bring my pan of water up to a simmer and then turn off the heat for this step. You want the water to be hot but not boiling. Carefully set your bowl of chopped chocolate right down into the water, making sure that the water doesn’t come close to the rim of my bowl because if you get water into your chocolate it can cause it to seize up. Let the chocolate sit for a while, allowing the chocolate to melt about halfway before stirring.
When the chocolate starts looking about halfway melted, using a dry rubber spatula to stir the chocolate, helping it to continue melting. Just be careful not to slosh any water into the chocolate while doing this. You can even take the bowl out of the water and set it on a dry towel on the counter while you stir, then return it back to the water if that helps.
Let the bowl of chocolate sit in the hot water, stirring it periodically, until the chocolate is completely melted. Once the chocolate is completely melted, use a digital thermometer to check the temperature of the chocolate, watching closely until it reaches 115 degrees F (for dark chocolate) or 110 degrees F (for milk or white chocolate). Don’t let the chocolate go over this temperature or you risk burning it, which is why a good thermometer is crucial, in my opinion.
At this point, remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the hot water and add the reserved 1/4 chunk of chocolate. You can sort of scrape at the chunk of chocolate and agitate it with your spatula while the warm chocolate melts the chunk of chocolate, which will also help gently bring down the temperature of the warm chocolate. Adding a block of properly tempered chocolate and continuous stirring encourages the formation of the proper crystalline structure necessary for properly tempered chocolate. Sounds weird and hokey, I know, but there is a science behind achieving the snap and sheen of properly tempered chocolate. Interesting, right? Yay science!
Continue to stir and cool the chocolate, testing its temperature periodically, until the chocolate reaches 90 degrees F (for dark chocolate) or 87 degrees F (for milk or white chocolate). The melted chocolate in the picture below was getting close! I use an instant-read thermometer and find it invaluable.
At this point, you can test the chocolate’s temper by smearing a small amount of your melted, tempered chocolate on a piece of parchment or waxed paper and watching to see if it sets properly. If tempered correctly, your smear of chocolate should begin to set within juts a few minutes, even at room temperature unless it’s particularly warm inside. It will start to lose its glossy shine and take on a slightly more matte look, then begin to set around the edges. In a cool room, properly tempered chocolate will set within about 4-6 minutes.
Don’t be tempted to stick your chocolate in the fridge to speed things up because that won’t actually tell you whether your chocolate has been tempered properly. If it doesn’t seem to be properly tempered, continue to stir and cool the chocolate another 1-2 degrees, then test it again. If it looks to be properly tempered, remove any remaining chunks of chocolate from your reserved 1/4 block if it hasn’t melted completely and just set it to the side (you can reuse it and melt it again later). Or just pop it in your mouth while you proceed to dip your strawberries!
Now that your chocolate is tempered, you are ready for dipping and coating! You can dip clean, dry (make sure they are totally dry!) strawberries, truffle centers, almonds – whatever you want! I also find it helpful to make sure whatever I am dipping is already at room temperature.
While dipping, keep your tempered chocolate warm by stirring it with your spatula periodically and testing its temperature. If it falls down in the 85 degree range, set your bowl of melted, tempered chocolate back in the hot water for 3 seconds (seriously, it doesn’t take long) to let the chocolate at the bottom of the bowl warm up a bit, then stir it again to mix the warm chocolate from the bottom with the cooler chocolate on top. But don’t let the chocolate go up over 90 degrees or you will need to start the tempering process over again!
Dip your strawberries into the tempered chocolate by holding them by the leaves or stem at the top of the berry, then dipping in and swirling to coat evenly around the majority of the berry, just avoiding the leaves. Gently scrape the bottom of the berry (whichever side you are going to set it down on) on the side of the bowl to remove some of the excess chocolate so it won’t puddle at the base of each strawberry when placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
When you finish dipping all the chocolate covered strawberries (or truffle centers or whatever you are dipping), you can pour the remaining tempered chocolate onto parchment paper and allow it to set back into a block form and store it in a cool, dry place to be used the next time you want to temper chocolate. It can also be used in a batch of Grandma Nash’s English Toffee. Or do what I do with the leftover tempered chocolate and just pour it over some raw almonds or other nuts and sprinkle it with a little flaky sea salt to make yourself a delicious chocolate bar, because um, chocolate. And almonds.
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