The last two months have been pretty amazing for this Gluten-Free Guide. I fell in love, was featured in a Gluten-Free story in the NY Times (wow, I am truly honored) and turned 29 (for the first time).
What exactly does one do to celebrate a 29th birthday? I decided to have an iron-on shirt party. I’m not crafty by nature and my iron had spent the last year sitting unused in my linen closet (much to Mom’s chagrin). The craftiness was surprisingly fun, but, of course, my favorite part of entertaining was planning the menu.
What would be good on a hot July day? I decided to serve root beer floats, a la Bobby Flay, my standard chips, dips and crudite, some fun new cheeses, and homemade chocolate dipped fruit. Originally, I was planning on making Friendship Bars, but they seemed a little too heavy for a summer menu. So instead, I used the dates and apricots to extend the chocolate indulgence.
Next time you see expensive chocolate covered strawberries at the store, walk on by, they are surprisingly easy to make, and the homemade ones are much easier on your wallet. These are going to become a new entertaining staple for me; the key is buying the best chocolate you can find.
(Gluten-Free) Chocolate-Covered Fruit
1 pound fresh strawberries washed
8 ounces dried Turkish apricots
8 ounced medjool dates
8 ounces E. Guittard 72% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
8 ounces E. Guittard 38% Cacao Milk Chocolate, chopped
2 Tablespoons shortening
In a double boiler, gently melt the chocolate and shortening over simmering, not boiling water. Be sure to stir well to fully incorporate the shortening. Keep the chocolate at a low heat and gently dip the fruit in the mixture. Place each piece on a piece of wax paper and transfer to the fridge for 30-60 minutes to set. You may have to re-warm the chocolate a few times as it starts to set.
Note: Taking a cue from my experiment with fondue, I mixed two types of chocolate, but if you only have one it will work just fine. Also, I don’t have a double boiler so I set up a large pyrex bowl over a saucepot with simmering water.
If you want to get more creative, try chopping up nuts or melting white chocolate for an extra bit of color and flavor. Substitute cherries, apples or other dried fruit. Though really, what more do you need than chocolate and strawberries?