Marion Pellicano Ambrose
Valentine’s Day, a time to show your love to that special someone! Flowers, candy, maybe even jewelry, are common tokens. But there’s one popular Valentine gift that says “LOVE” like no other: Chocolate Covered Strawberries!” This juicy, red, heart shaped fruit are a delectable treat on their own, but dip them and creamy, smooth melted chocolate and it’s the most decadent, indulgence ever!
And there’s good news! Recent studies have shown that both dark chocolate and strawberries are good for you! Researchers find that dark chocolate and aspirin have similar effects on the blood. They thin out the blood so it flows more easily, even through partially-blocked arteries, and that could reduce the possibility of a heart attack. For chocolate lovers everywhere, the health benefits are even better than that. According to Voice of America (http://www.voanews.com/english/news/Study-Chocolate-Strawberries-Help-Blood-Pressure-139149509.html)
"Research shows that we get flavinoids in dark chocolate," said nutritionist Tammy Roberts. Flavinoids are nutrients found in many different kinds of plants. They help protect plants against disease and insects. When we eat food with high levels of flavinoids, these nutrients trigger our immune systems to produce enzymes - proteins - that reduce the risk of some kinds of cancer, heart disease and some other diseases that come with age.
In fact, 21 scientific studies involving more than 2,600 participants examined the effects of dark chocolate on the heart. The studies showed that eating dark chocolate lowered blood pressure and improved the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugar.
Tammy Roberts says flavinoids are also found in something that tastes great when covered with dark chocolate, strawberries. "The health benefits of chocolate-covered strawberries are that both chocolate and strawberries contain antioxidants, and antioxidants are important for immune function and preventing infection," Roberts added.
If you plan to make your own chocolate covered strawberries, here are a few hints:
1. Choose ripe, firm, red berries and wash and pat dry.
2. Leave on the leaves. They look pretty and give you something to hold on to when dipping.
3. Use melted butter with your melted chocolate. It makes the dip smoother.
4. Use or make a double boiler to keep chocolate from crystallizing. Keep the water beneath at a low simmer.
5. Dip the strawberry and swirl a bit to make sure all of it is covered.
6. Allow it to drip when pulling it out and before placing on sheet.
7. Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Chill in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes until chocolate sets.
8. When solid, store in airtight container. Make when you’re planning to serve within a few hours. Chocolate can get white and chalky if kept in the refrigerator too long.
8 ounces dark chocolate chips
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 pound strawberries
Using a double boiler or bowl over hot water, melt your chocolate chips with the butter. Stir together until smooth.
One at a time, take each strawberry by the stem and leaves, dip into the chocolate as far as you can, shake, tip upside-down, and then set on your drying sheet.
When you have a sheet filled, place it in the refrigerator to dry the berries for 15-30 minutes. Test by tasting a berry. (This is the fun part!)
When chocolate is completely solid, put berries in an airtight container and store in a cool place away from a heat source.
*Can be made with milk chocolate or white chocolate, but this loses some of the healthy benefits.