The Biggest Mistake You're Making With Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Imagine someone who's lovestruck but who's also a beginner in the kitchen, trying to impress their significant other on Valentine's Day. They hit on the perfect idea: homemade chocolate-covered strawberries! It's just two ingredients: strawberries and chocolate. And it's one step: Dip ingredient one into ingredient two. What can go wrong?

On the other hand, Valentine's Day can be a high-stakes holiday when a couple's feelings for each other are just starting to flower. If chocolate-dipped strawberries are going to be your big play on February 14, then it's best not to go into the project overly confident. We've researched the union of strawberries and chocolate and found that it's not always a happy marriage. So, we're here to help: We've pulled together some tips for you, so you can make chocolate-covered strawberries that will win your beloved's heart.

The first piece of advice: practice making your chocolate-dipped strawberries a few days ahead of time. If you're not up to the task, you can always have flowers delivered.

Get the right berries and chocolate for your chocolate-covered strawberries

You're only dealing with two ingredients when making chocolate-covered strawberries, so make sure both are good enough for the job. Only the topmost part of your strawberries will show above the chocolate, so try to find berries that are red near the stem and not whitish-green (via Tastes Better from Scratch). Your Cup of Cake recommends smaller strawberries because they are more flavorful. Oregon strawberries fit the bill, but they won't be in season before Valentine's Day. Your Cup of Cake says you can find good strawberries during the winter at Costco. Look for ones with good, leafy stems that you can hold while dipping.

Whether you get white chocolate or dark, milk chocolate or semi-sweet is a matter of taste, so choose whatever you like. If you're undecided, you may want to take the advice of The Piquey Eater. They strongly suggest dark chocolate with 70 percent cocoa for its crunch and for the contrast between the bitterness of the dark chocolate and the sweet berries. Whatever type of chocolate you choose, make sure it's baking chocolate. It will give you the right consistency, according to Tastes Better from Scratch.

When heating chocolate, slow and steady is key - with plenty of stirring

Now that you've chosen the ideal strawberries and chocolate for your Valentine's treat, you need to know a few tricks of the trade to make sure your chocolate-covered strawberries turn out perfect. To melt the chocolate, use a double boiler or the microwave. The key to melting chocolate is to go slow and steady, with plenty of stirring. If you use a microwave, Tastes Better from Scratch says to set the oven for 50 percent power, and stop every 30 seconds to stir. Chocolate is very heat sensitive. If it gets too hot it will curdle, and you won't be able to use it (via The Stay at Home Chef).

Next, you want to make sure the chocolate sets on the strawberry just right. Your chocolate might look streaky or dull if you don't temper it first, according to Tastes Better from Scratch. Tempering sounds more complicated than it is. After your chocolate is melted, just add a heaping tablespoon of leftover chips and stir them in. This will ensure your chocolate isn't too hot and has the right consistency. If you want the chocolate coating on your strawberries to shine, add a little butter to the melted chocolate (via The Piquey Eater).

Make sure your strawberries are dry before dipping them in chocolate

We come at last to the biggest mistake people make with chocolate-dipped strawberries. Diligent romantics who are food-safety minded will definitely want to wash the strawberries before dipping them in chocolate. Water and chocolate don't mix, so it's very important to let those strawberries dry off, or dry them thoroughly before dipping. The experts at The Stay at Home Chef are adamant about this. They emphasize patting each strawberry individually with a paper towel – and don't forget the leaves. Water can drip off wet leaves and ruin your chocolate. The chocolate might fall off wet strawberries. At the very least, the chocolate will lose its smooth texture and appear a lot less appetizing (via Cafe Mom). 

You want your chocolate to stick fast and true to your strawberries, just as your love will be reliable and enduring – or something like that. You can write the Valentine's Day card yourself. Unlike your undying love, chocolate-covered strawberries have a shelf life of one day, if you refrigerate them. Best to make your Valentine's surprise shortly before your guest arrives.