Archive for December, 2010

Host a Fondue Party! Recipe: Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

The emails are the same every year: “Help! I’m supposed to bring a dessert to a holiday party but I have no idea what to make and I’m a terrible baker. (I store dress shoes in my oven.) Do you have any ideas on what I can bring? There will be serious food people there so I can’t do the store-bought thing.”   –Your Oven-Challenged Friend

Do you want an easy-to-prepare dessert that everyone loves? Do you need a gluten-free dish? If you’re hosting, would you like a fun activity at your party that both kids and adults will enjoy? Never fear! I have the perfect solution – that’s both delicious (and nutritious).

Chocolate-dipped strawberries are always a hit – and you can make them the day before and simply store them in a large tupperware and place wax paper in between each layer. If you are hosting a party and overwhelmed at the idea of cooking for a lot of guests, you can still offer a sophisticated table of food by simply getting creative.

Borrow a couple of fondue pots (or follow my directions below and use the stove), melt some cheese in one and chocolate in the other. For the cheese fondue dippers, keep it simple and offer cubed sourdough bread and vegetables like blanched cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots. I recommend purchasing some high-quality cheese for your fondue.

Berries aren’t exactly seasonal right now but the beauty of a Fondue Party is that you can dip pretty much anything into chocolate. For the chocolate fondue, you can offer kiwi or bananas slices, pineapple chunks, pear or apple slices, and of course, strawberries. It’s an excellent way to get some fruit into kids during this sugary time of year. However, the kids (and adults for that matter) might also enjoy graham crackers and pretzels too.

Place some more cheese, olives, and grapes on the table surrounding the fondue pots and everyone will comment on what a spectacular host/hostess you are – when you hardly did a thing in the kitchen!

This recipe is from my cookbook – enjoy and HAPPPY HOLIDAYS!!

strawberryphoto300pxChocolate-Dipped Strawberries
Dipping food into melted chocolate is always an exciting activity! When making this recipe with kids, make sure that you keep the chocolate cool enough for their little fingers to touch but not so cold that it hardens.

30 medium-sized strawberries
6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or non-hydrogenated margarine
1 tablespoon corn syrup

KIDS 2 and up: Wash and dry the strawberries. Make sure that the berries are completely dry or the
chocolate will not adhere to them. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.

ADULTS: In the top of a double boiler that you’ve set over simmering water, stir the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove the chocolate from the heat but leave the water simmering in case the chocolate starts to harden and you need to re-heat it. If you’re worried about small kids touching a still-warm pan, you can transfer the chocolate to a cool dish.

KIDS 2 and up: Hold each strawberry by its stem and dip it ¾ of the way into the chocolate. Swirl it and shake off excess chocolate. Place the chocolate-dipped strawberry on the baking sheet lined with waxed paper and repeat with the rest of the strawberries. They can harden in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Cooking Tips:
-It’s best if the strawberries are at room temperature rather than cold.
-If you don’t have a double boiler (which is necessary since the chocolate will burn if put directly over heat), simply place a metal bowl on top of a saucepan or put a small saucepan inside another larger saucepan. Alternatively, you can microwave the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals until it is melted.
-“Simmering” means a few small bubbles are barely breaking the surface.
-This recipe can be prepared up to 1-2 days before serving – just store the strawberries in the
refrigerator and remove 30 minutes before serving.

Kid Tips:
-If your kids want to create designs, melt some white chocolate, dip a spoon in, and swirl designs onto the chocolate-dipped strawberries. Or, they can dip the chocolate-dipped strawberries in sprinkles before the chocolate hardens.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes (plus 1 hour for hardening)
Yields: 30 strawberries
Recipe from Easy Meals to Cook with Kids by Julie Negrin © 2010

Just thinking about eating melted cheese makes my stomach hurt so I don’t have my own recipe for it – however, this Cheese Fondue recipe on the Food Network looks like a winner. Check it out and have fun!