Fresh, large strawberries dipped in fine chocolate is a passionate marriage of flavor. Core in or wrap the berry about with the almond essence and coconut cream fondant before dipping and the confection elevates to a new status. What could be more wonderful on Valentine’s Day to express love to a sweetheart than with these voluptuous berries?
For the Coconut Cream Fondant:
1/4 cup softened butter
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
16 ounces confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup sweetened coconut
For the Chocolate-dipped Strawberries:
8 to 10 large strawberries with the calyx still attached
1 pound dark or milk Belgian chocolate
Salted pistachios, shelled and chopped
Belgian chocolate chunks
Cordials originated with the British to denote any strongly flavored fruit drink or even a palatable liquid medicine. Not until cordials were introduced to America did they come to mean a hard liqueur with a cherry hint. However, cordial candy remained by definition a fruit center surrounded by a cream fondant encased in a hardened chocolate shell. Upon cracking the chocolate layer with the first bite, the fruit’s natural sugars would have already enticed the fondant to melt into a liquid and the result would be the reveal of a fanciful syrup flavored by the fresh fruit. The traditional chocolate cherry cordials appear for Valentine’s Day as well as most of the major holidays; yet, other fruits, especially berries, may be used. Moreover, to create the sugary breakdown, invertase is often added to the enrobed chocolates. This enzyme, extracted from yeast, separates sucrose (granulated sugar) into its components of fructose and glucose, resulting in the encased liquid. The process can take a few days to a month to complete.
To Prepare the Cream Fondant:
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with a wooden spoon. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk. Sift the confectioner’s sugar on top of the butter and milk mixture, adding in a pinch of salt. Fold the sugar into the liquid until well-combined. Add 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract. Once the mixture is smooth, stir in the sweetened coconut, if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 2 hours before attempting to form the candies.
To Prepare the Chocolate Strawberries:
The strawberries may be prepared with the fondant in two different ways: plugged or wrapped. To plug the strawberry, use a strawberry huller that will pull out a center of the strawberry. Since the calyx at the top of the strawberry is needed for dipping later on, the plug must come from the underside of the strawberry without going through the top on the other side. Once the plug is removed, pack with the chilled fondant mixture. For the second method, mold fondant around the outside of the strawberry evenly, leaving about ½-inch of exposed strawberry flesh. Either method produces a cordialized experience.
Once the berries are prepared, place the wrapped ones on the desired side down and the plugged ones with the open fondant side down on waxed or parchment paper on a baking sheet. In order to dip the strawberries, they must first be chilled until the fondant is firm, about 2 hours.
When the fondant is firm enough to dip, prepare a double boiler with water in the bottom pan and no trace of water in the top. Any water or steam droplets may result in dull graying or bloom on the finished chocolate surface. In the top pan of the double boiler, temper the Belgian chocolate for dipping the berries. Once the chocolate has achieved its tempered state, remove it from the heat to the surface where the dipping process will take place.
To dip each berry, grasp the calyx with the fingers firmly but not so hard that you break off the green leaves. Notice that the berry is heavier than normal due to the addition of the fondant. Also, the fondant cannot get warm or begin to melt in to the chocolate as it will also cause the chocolate to have sugar crystals on the surface or gray. Tilting the pan slightly to create a deeper pool of chocolate and working with one berry at a time, insert the berry’s end quickly to about ½-inch from the calyx and pull it back up immediately. Allow the excess chocolate to stream off the end. Dip again and allow the excess to run off once more. This process is called enrobing the berry. NOTE:It is important for the fondant to be completely covered or the liquid will seep out as it cordializes.
Carefully place the dipped strawberry on the waxed or parchment paper and let cool without being disturbed. Chocolate may not be retouched or added after the dipping process without leaving fingerprints, smudges or uneven sections on the surface of the confection. If more chocolate is needed, it is better to dip a third time instead. Repeat the process until the all the berries have been double dipped.
As no invertase is used in this recipe to break down the fondant, the natural moisture and acidity in the strawberry begins this process almost immediately in the berries. Within a few minutes, the outer surround of the fondant will melt due to the heat of the chocolate. Likewise, the plugged strawberries will begin to breakdown faster than those that are wrapped because of the moisture on the inside of the strawberry compared to the outer flesh. Nonetheless, waiting until it completely cordializes or eating it almost immediately, the taste will be equally delicious.
To garnish the berries beyond straight, smooth chocolate surfaces, be prepared with the garnish of choice prior to dipping. Once the chocolate is wet, add the pistachios, the coconut, or the chocolate chunks. Pearl dragées may require the addition of a thin line of chocolate like an adhesive. Once the chocolate has hardened, the added garnishes will remain attached.
To present, place on a plate alone or several small ones with the ends pointing inward to form a flower. Once they are completely hardened, lay the same direction in a chocolate confection box. The possibilities are endless.
Yield: 8 to 10 extra large, chocolate-dipped strawberries wrapped in cream fondant. Note: Size of the berries cause quantity to vary.
Recipe Created and Stylized by R. Shannon and Robyn J. Mock
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