Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Recently, I thought I’d make something for an upcoming afternoon tea party. However, as I did not plan it out 47 years in advance, I naturally totally panicked and couldn’t think of a single thing that wouldn’t require 3 days of preparation, hours of rising and baking time. In short, it was impossible.

And then I remembered that there are so many things you can make without baking!! So I embarked on creating the greatest, easiest, and fanciest-looking afternoon treat of all time: chocolate covered strawberries. And to help you through any similar future panics of your own, I shared my step-by-step process so you too can get gazes of wonder from friends, without the preceding panic.

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Ingredients:

  • strawberries (many)
  • dark chocolate (I went for Cadbury baking chocolate for the extra deliciousness)
  • white chocolate (for drizzling)

Items you will need:

  • sink (and maybe colander) to wash your strawberries
  • tray and baking paper to lay down your dipped strawberries
  • chocolate melting device – I did the double-boil method over the stove, but the microwave works just as well
  • if you do use a questionable double-boil as I did, oven mitts should be handy to help remove the bowl from the heat
  • fork for stirring melted chocolate
  • a bag to drizzle the white chocolate – I re-purposed a sandwich bag, but a freezer bag or proper icing bag, or literally any bag, will do the job
  • cute tray to display your very attractive strawberries

How to do it:

  • Wash your strawberries, and make sure they are thoroughly dried.
  • Set up trays with baking paper.
  • Melt your dark chocolate. I used the following precarious set up, involving a pot filled with water on my stove, and a shallow bowl that kind of balanced on top. I had the chocolate broken up into small pieces and in the bowl from the beginning, so that the melting process was a bit slower. As the bowl heated up, I’d occasionally remove it from the heat to give the chocolate a stir. It’s stealthy – the melting happens faster than it looks, so it’s better to regularly remove from the heat and stir to avoid burning, than let it go too long.
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(This photograph is from a little later in the process, but you get the vibe. It’s questionable at best, but it worked!)

  • When the chocolate is melted, remove from heat. Dip the (dried) strawberries into the chocolate, rolling around to ensure excellent coverage. Lay in straight rows on the baking paper (this makes the white chocolate drizzle a little easier later on).

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  • Once you’ve dipped all your strawberries, pop the trays in the fridge to speed up the setting process.
  • Repeat step 3 above, but this time with white chocolate!
  • Remove your trays of dipped strawberries from the fridge – chocolate sets fast, so they should be fine by now.
  • Pour the melted white chocolate into a bag – you can use a proper icing bag, freezer bag, I used a sandwich zip lock bag – any bag that you can tip the chocolate into a corner of the bag. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to snip a very tiny bit of the corner off – this will be your spout for drizzling the white chocolate.

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  • Drizzle the white chocolate along the rows of strawberries.

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  • Pop trays back into fridge to allow the white chocolate to set. Suck remaining white chocolate from the spout of the bag (my personal favourite step).
  • Once the chocolate is fully set, remove strawberries from fridge and carefully peel away from the baking paper. Lay out on a pretty tray or plate, and boom. Best. Dessert. Ever.

 

 

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[Review] Goodness Me Box

It’s been a while since I got to review one of these bad boys! I’ve been really looking forward to getting the Goodness Me box. I’ve known about it for a while, but was waiting for an elusive discount code so that I could sustain the expensive habit of subscription boxes. Around Easter there was 30% off a 3 month membership, so I swooped on the opportunity, and received my first box in April.

To start with, the basics:

The Box: Goodness Me Box, a box designed to encourage health food sampling, providing a box of 5 – 10 samples a month with the goal of getting consumers excited about eating pure and wholesome food.

Cost: Monthly subscription is $25/month with free shipping. There is also a 3 month subscription for $70 (upfront), a 6 month subscription for $135 (upfront) or an annual subscription of $265 (upfront).

Delivery: Monthly.

Delivery time: I can’t report on this one, as somewhat irritatingly I didn’t get an email notification letting me know my box had been shipped.

As usual I got my box delivered to work (I think I’m really starting to test the patience of the service centre), and was very excited to have it arrive.

This box comes in one of those nicely packaged foldy boxes with themed tape, wrapped with twine and a little Goodness Me tag. There was a bonus Soma Bite bar in the big packaging, which actually came across kind of random. I found myself questioning whether it was supposed to be in the box and they just forgot? It was an odd packaging decision.

Inside the box, the items were wrapped in tissue paper, and the box was stuffed with filling paper, which made everything present really well immediately upon opening.

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The April box contained:

  • Kokoluxe hot chocolate powder
  • 2 x Chai Tea sample bags
  • Just Jerky
  • Power Mix
  • Tom Yum Soup kit
  • Fruit-Free Bar
  • Citrus and Chia Bites

Total value: $25.60

 

The information booklet that came with the box contained the name of the product, some info about the brand and the cost of the item. however, those numbers were a little off, and I’ve calculated the above value based on the actual weight of the products received. Disappointingly, the total value of the box only met the cost of purchasing it.

In terms of the actual products I received, I’ve set out a list of what I think of those items I tried below:

  • Chai tea: delicious. I always find organic brands of tea have a better aroma than, say, Twinings. Whether that can be attributed to the organic-ness, or just they put more effort into packing a punch with the herbs and spices they use, I can’t say, but I would buy these in a store.
  • Just Jerky: actually amazing. The honey and coriander flavour was subtle but delicious, and the jerky bites were a great size. Jerky is never something I would contemplate buying, but if I had it in my cupboard I would probably never stop eating it. Definite 10/10. And consistently with the Goodness Me brand, the jerky is sustainable sourced and ethically produced. So that’s nice.
  • Soma Bites bar: hard no. Weird flavours and texture. Definitely would not re-purchase.
  • Fruit-Free Bar: very delicious. I detest dried fruit and any kind of fruit bar, because I subscribe to the belief that if you aren’t actually holding the fruit itself in your hands (e.g. an actual apple) you aren’t eating it. You’re just eating a sugar version of it. I’m not open to being disabused of this notion, not matter how much it appears based on rubbish, but of course you don’t have to agree with me. However these don’t feel particularly healthy to eat, since it is all packaged and stuck together and generally feels a bit fake, so I wouldn’t be substituting plain nuts for this bar on a regular basis.

Although this box was full of great and different products, the fact the value of the box didn’t greatly exceed the cost of subscribing really turned me off. Next month’s box has been advertised as ‘Decadent Desserts’, so I’m hoping that it will meet the quality of the goods in this box, and exceed the value!

[Eat] Chicken Chorizo Casserole 

Part of my quest of being a grownup is to develop a set of recipes I can cook, from scratch and from memory, on those nights where it’s all a bit much but you’re feeling too self righteous for takeaway. I got this idea from perusing a Nigella cookbook during one of my heinous part-time retail jobs, and the concept really appealed to the image of adulthood I’ve been working to create.

I stumbled across this casserole by accident, and it’s definitely become a staple in our winter diet. It’s warm, filling, easy, and most importantly contains chorizo. It also keeps well in the fridge and makes a great leftover lunch that makes your colleagues jealous (maybe the greatest benefit).

So, to start, the ingredients (to make sure you don’t accidentally buy too much chicken, the quantities below serve 4. I usually double the batch and we scarf it for lunch and dinner the next day too).

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I wish I had a more photogenic kitchen, but alas, the cheap rent outweighed the beauty of a modern white workspace

500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
150g chorizo
1 tbsp mild olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 red capsicum
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
3 tbsp dry sherry or white wine
1 x 400g chopped tomatoes
200ml chicken stock
1 x 400g can chickpeas in water, drained
1 small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley

What next?

Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces (my concept of bite size varies depending on how patient I’m feeling that evening), and cut the chorizo into thin slices. Put a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat and add olive oil, then add the chorizo. Fry the chorizo for 3 minutes, or until it is starting to crisp and has released some of its red oil.

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I have to make double the chorizo because the boyf eats most of it while the rest of the meal is cooking

Lift the chorizo out of the pan and set it aside on a plate. Try not to eat all of it while continuing with the rest of this recipe. Add the chicken to the pan, season with salt and pepper, then fry for 5 minutes, stirring as required until golden.

Thinly slice the onion and garlic, and de-seed the capsicum, cutting it into chunky strips. Add the veggies to the pan and turn the heat down. Allow everything to cook for 10 minutes until the onions, pepper and garlic have softened, stirring only occasionally.

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Chicken sure is an ugly meat

Stir in the cinnamon, paprika and thyme, and fry for 1 minute until fragrant. This is like magic to me – the fragrancy is actually apparent!

Turn the heat to medium. Splash in the wine (take a swig from the bottle) then add the tomatoes and stock. Stir, then allow to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is tender.

Add the chickpeas and chorizo to the pan, stir well, and simmer for 2 more minutes.

Your food is done now, but if you want it to look like adult food, roughly chop the parsley leaves then stir them through the pan. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with some oil and serve with crusty bread.

By the time we got to eating this, I’d had a few wines and forgot to take a final serving photo. But I promise you, it’s delicious, and it looks as delightful as it tastes.