Life, recently, has been somewhat of a blur. My days consist of getting up early, commuting to work (a first for me!), spending all day in a kitchen, commuting back home and, mostly, passing out on the sofa before being nudged awake by TS and reluctantly trudging up to bed for a few hours until I have to do it all over again.
I don’t make it sound very exciting, do I? But it is, oh goodness, it is so great. I love the fact that I get to spend my days making food for others, that I learn something new every day, that I get to be creative and work with people I genuinely like – I just love every single moment. Possibly my enthusiasm for even the most mundane tasks will wane over time but I sincerely hope not because, honestly, I’m living the dream. Yes, it’s a fairly exhausting, muscle aching, finger slicing dream, but it’s my dream and that’s the important thing.
Take these strawberry chocolate tuxedos, for example – I learned to make these sometime in my second week at work and I instantly fell in love, despite the fact that most of the others who have to make them find them a chore. I even have a deal going with one of the guys in the kitchen that every time I make them for a guest I have to make him one extra – I know he’s just waiting to see my enthusiasm wear thin but I don’t think it ever will… I mean: it’s a strawberry. Wearing a tuxedo. Made of chocolate. A strawberry wearing a tuxedo! I don’t need to say much more. And it’s so easy because you don’t need to temper the chocolate – all you need is a microwave, some chocolate, some strawberries and parchment paper. That’s it. Easy or what?
So the next time you need a special little something to end your evening on, something just a little more fantastic than chocolate dipped strawberries, whip out the chocolate, get yourself some strawberries and suit ’em up. You’re welcome.
STRAWBERRY TUXEDO PHOTO TUTORIAL
5 – 6 evenly sized nice looking strawberries, tops intact (all of my strawberries look a little rastafarian as the tops were not the prettiest, but I kind of like how it gives them a funky look! If you’re going for a more refined look, however, try and go for strawberries with smaller tops but be careful when you’re dipping them or you may lose them in the chocolate)
Roughly 50 g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces (I recommend using a chocolate with 55 – 60% cocoa solids, personally I used half 70% and half 43% because I couldn’t find anything in the shops with the percentage I was after, but this works out to being around 55%)
Roughly 50 g white chocolate, broken into small pieces
1. In the microwave melt the dark chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl for about 1 min in 30 second bursts, being careful not to burn the chocolate and stirring in between. Set aside and melt a small heat-proof bowl of white chocolate for about 30 seconds, stirring well. If you still have bits of chocolate left at the end don’t worry, give it a good stir and the residual heat should melt the remainder.
2. Line the baking sheet with a sheet of baking paper and, grasping your strawberries by their tops, dip into the white chocolate, tilting it towards you so that the white chocolate creates a slight curve at the top of the strawberry. Rest it on the baking paper for about 5 seconds, then drag backwards, lift up and place at the top of the paper. This prevents the chocolate from creating ‘feet’ at the base of the strawberry, giving a cleaner line. Repeat for all the strawberries, then take the whole sheet and put it in the fridge for a few minutes.
3. Whilst waiting for your white chocolate to set up, make your piping bags.
Now, admittedly I am not the best person to instruct you on how to do this as it took me around half an hour to learn the other day, but the basic principle is that you cut a triangle of baking paper and, holding it so that the top point of the triangle is in the bottom right-hand corner, you grasp the top right corner and bring it towards you, then grab the left corner with your other hand and wrap it around to make a cone. You then twist the cone from the inside to create more layers and when you push those inner layers away from you you’ll see the point of the bag becoming smaller and pointier. Fold the top edges of the cone in on themselves to secure it, then simply fill with melted chocolate and fold the bag down to enclose. I’ll try do another tutorial on this at a later date but, if in doubt, Google it!
4. By the time you’ve finished struggling with your homemade piping bags, your white chocolate will have set up enough in the fridge. Remove the tray and dip each strawberry into the dark chocolate at an angle, creating the sides of the tuxedo jacket. Rest back on the parchment paper and, as before, wait 5 seconds, then drag, lift and place on a clean part of the paper. As the white chocolate and tray will be cold, you’ll find that the dark chocolate sets very quickly.
5. It’s detail time: snip the tips of your piping bags with scissors, being careful to only cut the smallest bit, just enough to draw a fine line of chocolate, and, using the dark chocolate, draw little bow tie shapes on the white chocolate part – the shirt (it’ll be so small that the chocolate will fill itself in) – then, using the white chocolate, dot two little buttons on the dark chocolate part – the jacket. And that’s it! Pop them back in the fridge to set up a little (depending on how hot your kitchen is), plate ’em up and serve them! Easy or what?
NB. If leaving these out at room temperature, be aware that the strawberries will start to leak after a couple of hours or so. You can leave them in the fridge but you’ll get condensation on the chocolate, so try not to make them too far in advance.
Such a small thing but so adorable, right? It’s a bit sad but I think these little strawberry tuxedos have changed my life.
God. I need to get out more.
Until next time, peace and love,