Chocolate-dipped Strawberries

An easy, elegant dessert or a beautiful garnish for Strawberry Shortcake.

You will need:
Fresh, ripe strawberries with leaves attached (if you pick your own, leave a bit of the stem on too for easier dipping)
Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Chocolate Chips or semi-sweet if you prefer
Vegetable shortening or refined coconut oil (I use Spectrum brand organic, non-hydrogenated shortening)
Cookie sheets lined with waxed paper.

One cup of chocolate chips will coat 1 1/2 to 2 dozen medium-sized berries. For every cup of chocolate chips add 2 teaspoons shortening. Don't substitute butter; it doesn't work correctly.

Wash the berries and gently pat them dry with paper towels.

Place the chips and shortening in a small glass bowl and microwave for 45 seconds. Stir and then microwave for another 30 to 45 seconds. Stir again until all the chips are melted.

Holding each strawberry by the stem or leaves, dip into the melted chocolate until just a bit of the red is showing at the top. Scrape the bottom side against the bowl to remove excess chocolate and place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet to harden. Repeat with remaining berries until all the chocolate is used up (or you run out of berries.)

You can cover and save any leftover chocolate and remelt it another time or you can try dipping pretzels, dried fruit, etc. into it. My personal favorite way to finish it off is to use chunks of ripe banana to clean out the bowl, eating as I go.

You can speed up the "drying" time by placing the dipped berries in the refrigerator for 10 to 20 minutes, but they will firm up at room temperature in 30 to 45 minutes. The shortening keeps the chocolate just a bit soft so it doesn't crack into pieces when you bite into the berry.

When hardened, place individual berries in white, mini-muffin tin liners to serve. They will keep overnight in the fridge, but the chocolate may get condensation on it when they are brought to room temperature again.

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