For Holiday Fun
BY DANA JACOBI
FOR THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE FOR CANCER RESEARCH
with friends during the holiday season, forget about caviar and
champagne. Treat guests instead to an elegant tray of hand dipped
chocolate-covered fruit. Although these decadent
treats may look like they came from an expensive chocolate boutique,
dipping your own fruit is surprisingly simple and wont
cost you a fortune. All it requires is some fundamental knowledge
For starters, pick a dark chocolate
that contains from 60 to 70 percent cocoa. These varieties have
a stronger, more intense flavor thanks to a greater cocoa content.
They also have a higher proportion of antioxidants that provide
valuable disease-fighting potential. Using a higher quality chocolate
creates a more pronounced sheen on the berries as well once the
chocolate has set.
Melting the chocolate in a
microwave oven is easiest. However, chocolate melts at a temperature
between 80 and 90 degrees and can burn quickly if not watched
carefully. To prevent it from burning, heat the chocolate in
10-second bursts, stirring after each interval.
The alternative method for
melting chocolate over hot water requires even
more care. Chocolate contains a starch that hates moisture and
it will react to even a drop of water by seizing up,
turning rock hard and grainy. Once this happens, nothing can
coax it to melt smoothly again. To avoid this, place the chocolate
in a deep metal or heatproof glass bowl and set the bowl in the
center of a wide pan filled with hot (but not boiling) water.
This method is actually more reliable than using a traditional
double boiler, where steam emerges closer to the chocolate and
is more like to drip onto it.
For dipping, choose the best
quality fruit you can find. Dip the fruit halfway into the chocolate
to show off their color and keep the stems of the berries intact
for a more dramatic presentation. Carefully let the excess chocolate
drip off the fruit after dipping and allow the fruit to set in
Fruit - Makes 4 servings.
3 ounces dark (70 percent cocoa)
8 large strawberries
16 large seedless green grapes
1 large banana, cut into 8 pieces
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or wax paper. Set aside.
Break up the chocolate or chop it. Place in a small microwaveable
bowl and heat for 1 minute on high. Stir, then microwave in 10
second bursts on medium until small pieces remain. Stir until
the chocolate is completely melted. Alternatively, place the
bowl in a small skillet filled with 2 inches of simmering hot
water and stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted.
Pat the fruit with paper towels to be sure it is completely dry.
Holding each strawberry by its hull, dip halfway into the melted
chocolate and lift out with a twisting motion. Shake the berry
over the bowl for 10 seconds to let excess chocolate drip off.
Place the strawberry on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until
all the berries are dipped.
Insert a toothpick into the stem end of each grape. Dip grapes
until half covered with chocolate, twisting and letting the excess
drip off. Lay each grape on its side on the baking sheet.
Stand each banana section on a round end and insert a toothpick
in the center of the top. Dip, twist and let excess chocolate
drip off, like the other fruit.
Place the baking sheet with the dipped fruits in the refrigerator
until the chocolate hardens, 30 minutes. Serve immediately, or
within 6 hours.
Per serving: 170 calories,
7 g total fat (4 g saturated fat), 27 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein,
4 g dietary fiber, 0 mg sodium.