Chocolate strawberry carrots and Easter eggs

CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – Easter is just around the corner and every bunny loves chocolate, so why not make some adorable chocolate treats? Nancy Parent, Owner of Tiers of Joy in Ludlow, showed us how to make chocolate carrots and chocolate Easter eggs.

Chocolate Strawberry Carrots and Easter eggs

Ingredients:
– strawberries
– candy melts or chocolate
– small amount of shortening if you are melting a larger amount of chocolate that you need to stay smooth
– DO NOT USE food color that you can buy in a grocery store. You need oil based colors for chocolate.

Tools/Supplies Needed:
– skewer, fork, toothpicks
– bowls for melting chocolate (microwave safe and or heat resistant)
– spoon(s)
– knife
– wax paper
– storage bag/disposable piping bag- OPTIONAL

Many stores offer dipping strawberries which are larger in size, however, any strawberries are fine for this project.

Cleaning the strawberries:
One mistake people make when they are cleaning the strawberries is to rinse them or soak them in water. The strawberries absorb too much water in this case which can make the chocolate “seize” (thicken and become unusable) when dipped. And effective way to clean them for purposes of dipping is to dampen a paper towel and rub it carefully over each strawberry removing any dirt and loose seeds. Set them aside to dry THOROUGHLY.

Note: I like to leave the tops on the strawberries when I’m going to dip them because it makes it much easier to hold the strawberries. If you preferred to hull the berries first, cut the leaves off with a sharp knife then use either a fork or a food skewer to dip them.

Chocolate for Dipping:
I prefer to use candy melts. They can be purchased in any craft store, are inexpensive, and come in a variety of colors. The colors are very important since you CANNOT use regular kitchen food coloring for chocolate. This food color contains water and will make the chocolate seize. Candy oil colors must be use for coloring chocolate. Therefore, purchasing the colors “ready made” saves a lot of time and expense.

Melting the chocolate:
There are several different ways to melt the chocolate.

Microwave:
– Pour the candy melts into a microwave safe bowl and select 30 seconds on the microwave clock.
– when finished, stir and heat again for 30 seconds.
– Repeat this process until the chocolate is smooth.
– the last cycle may need just a few seconds instead of a full 30 second cycle.

Stovetop:
The chocolate can be melted in a double boiler which is the preferred method if you are doing a large number of berries. Add about 1 tsp of Cisco to the chocolate to help it retain smoothness while remaining on the warm burner.

Electric fry pan:
If you are melting smaller amounts, but several colors of chocolate,you may want to use this method. Put approximately 1″ of water in the pan, put the chocolate in small Pyrex-type bowls to melt/ keep the chocolate melted

Once the chocolate is smooth, dip the strawberry, tap it against the side of the bowl, if using a utensil to dip, or shake it a little if your dipping it by the leaves.

Place the berry on wax paper to harden. If you prefer you can use a longer toothpick to dip the Berry and secure the toothpick in a block of styrofoam to let the Berry dry upside down (if you want the “carrot” to be orange all the way up to the leaves). Note: it’s good idea to leave a little of the berry exposed because the drying chocolate will shrink a bit and put some pressure on the berry. This could cause the chocolate to crack if the entire Berry is covered.

Once the chocolate has hardened you can decorate them!

Carrots:
We need to put some little lines across the surface of the chocolate. You can:
– dip the tines of a fork in the melted chocolate and quickly move them across the berries in a sideways motion.
– you can dip the tip of a skewer or toothpick in chocolate, hold it above the berries and let the chocolate drop on in a line
– you can pour some of the melted chocolate into a quart storage bag (or disposable piping bag), snip a tiny bit of the point off and use that to lay your lines on.

Presentation:
I like to place mine on crushed chocolate cookie crumbs so it looks like the carrots are in a garden.

Easter eggs:
Any of the above methods can be used to make lines, polka dots , chevron lines…whatever design you want to put on your berries!

Couple of “Cautions”
– be careful about putting your berries on anything that isn’t a food safe material.
– dip your berries at the last possible opportunity, not several days ahead since they can weep. Dipping them the night before or day of the event is preferable.
– if you plan to use the berries as a cake decoration, only place them on the cake as you are getting ready to serve it. Again, the juice can weep out and spoil your lovely presentation.
– you will likely need to trim your berries of excess chocolate after they have dried on wax paper. Use a sharp knife to score the chocolate. It is often easier to snap off the excess chocolate after scoring it then to actually trying to cut it away.
– store the berries in a cool, darker spot, but not in the refrigerator since the chocolate can crack or “bloom” (get white spots) from the cold.

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