I know you are all busy people on a Sunday, so just a quick post to see you through the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee festivities. Along with yesterday’s two White Chocolate Treats (one with freeze-dried strawberries and the other with rose water) we will be mainly munching on these Chocolate-covered Strawberries. The kick? Once again, I give you Sichuan peppers.
Before you think I have gone completely off my rocker, in my defence I should say that black pepper and strawberries is a fairly popular pairing (three and a half million Google entries can’t be wrong). As is balsamic vinegar (yum), as is shortcake (meh, unless homemade). But I love these aromatic, electric berries and just thought, why not. If they didn’t work I wouldn’t be bragging about it, and certainly wouldn’t waste your time with it. I would just quietly eat them and make something less likely to have you click away immediately to a pretty cake or a gooey traybake. But they have the food to glow family seal of approval, Miss R and Mr A being a discerning bunch who call a spade a spade, and a horrendous disaster a horrendous disaster. I hope they get your approval too.
Just to warn you: yet another Sichaun pepper containing recipe (adaptable of course) coming your way soon. But with actual Chinese (-style) food this time. No, really. Not with rhubarb. I kid you not.
Well, I’m off to watch the Queen’s Jubilee 1000-boat flotilla from the comfort of my sofa, cup of tea in hand and assorted food to glow snacks at the ready. Have a great rest of the weekend, and a Happy Jubilee to you, too. Back to my savoury self soon.
Chocolate-dipped Strawberries with Sichuan Pepper
Not the most conventional of toppings, but a nice one nonetheless. I love the contrast of the sweet-tart of the berries, the bittersweet of the chocolate and the ba-da-boom of the Sichuan. Just a little something different to keep everyone on their toes this Jubilee.
Punnet of strawberries (About 250g/9 oz)
150g (5 ½ oz) best dark or plain chocolate, chopped into small, evenly-sized pieces
½ tsp vanilla paste (optional) -add to chocolate before melting
Ground Sichuan pepper
Wash the strawberries and pat dry with a kitchen towel or two. They need to be completely dry or any moisture left on the berries will cause the melted chocolate to go grainy and weird. Eww.
To melt the chocolate use either a double boiler or the microwave. For the double boiler either use a proper double boiler, or use a glass or stainless steel bowl, and set the pan/bowl over a pot of just simmering water. Be very careful that no water or steam droplets get in the chocolate. Let the chocolate sit until it is mostly melted before removing from the bottom pan. Wipe the bottom dry (so to speak) so no condensation is tempted in get in. Whisk until glossy. If it is at all cranky whisk in a little oil or butter and whisk again.
For the microwave, pop the chopped chocolate into a suitable bowl and melt partially for one minute on the lowest setting (defrost or 10 per cent). Check the chocolate and stir well. If it needs more time do it in short 10 second bursts, checking and stirring each time. Let the residual heat melt any small pieces of chocolate. Chocolate chips and baker’s chocolate may not look melted until you stir it, so always stir at each heat blast.
For the dipping, take a strawberry by the stem, or if not a long enough stem then spear carefully with a toothpick at the stem end, and gently swirl in the chocolate. Give it a twist with your fingers as you withdraw from the chocolate. Twirl it in a circle once it is out to let the excess chocolate drip off. Lay the strawberry on a parchment paper-covered tray and carry on with the remaining berries.
Let the berries semi-set for 15 minutes or so before sprinkling on a pinch of pepper for each chocolatey berry. Let the chocolates set completely before putting on a serving dish or in a bowl. Any leftover chocolate should either be dredged out with a clean and greedy finger (cook’s perk) or spread into little coins on some extra baking parchment and sprinkled with both Sichuan pepper and a little flaky sea salt. Again, cook’s perk (or for sharing if you are not called Kellie Anderson)
PS If you want to temper the chocolate like a pro (or if you want to keep them for awhile without them ‘blooming’) have a look at this website for all the pernickety details. Because I made a small amount for immediate consumption (and because I really could not be bothered) I just stuck with the unshiny, untempered version. Tastes jolly lovely though!