On Making Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Creating your own chocolate covered strawberries is a fun family activity as well as a romantic activity to do as a couple but it is also an easy fancy centerpiece that is certain to leave an impression at dinner parties. People often ask how to create chocolate covered strawberries after trying to do it alone and having the project go completely awry. The reality is that there are a couple of tricks that make creating artistic chocolate covered strawberries much less stressful!   
The first step in making good chocolate covered strawberries is to collect your ingredients. You will need:
Fresh strawberries - the ideal location to find fat and perfect strawberries is Whole Foods market, Fresh Market or your local Farmers Market. Always try to pick brighter strawberries as that are firmer to the touch and have no soft or dark red patches, this will make them better for covering with chocolate as well as make them more pleasing to the eye.
Two tablespoons of shortening or butter - this gets mixed with your chocolate to make it thinner as well as to create a much softer chocolate coating after the chocolate has set.
A box of toothpicks - these will be placed in the berries and used as "handles" for dipping as well as provide a way to dry and cool the berries without leaving flat patches on them.
A piece of Styrofoam - this will be used to place the ends of toothpicks in and 'hang' the strawberries while they dry preventing flat patches of chocolate coating. You can purchase Styrofoam for a couple of dollars from your local craft store.
12 oz good quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate - AVOID USING MILK CHOCOLATE / CANDY BARS. You will have better luck using chocolate chips or chocolate disks because they melt uniformly and make for a smoother chocolate coating.
Step 1 - Delicately rinse off and carefully dry each individual berry. One popular way to wash berries is to wet a paper towel and by holding each end of the towel roll the berries one at a time to rub dirt off gently on the moist towel. Strawberry skin is particularly sensitive so make sure they are dried carefully, this can be done in the same method as above using a dry paper towel. It is up to you as to whether you want to leave leaves and stalks on your berries. Usually professional berries are left with stalks and leaves intact. Make sure to throw away bruised berries.
Step 2 - Slide a toothpick carefully in to the top of every berry without piercing the bottom of the fruit.
Step 3 - Put your chocolate and shortening or butter in your double boiler. Melt the mixture slowly stirring occasionally to make sure that you have a smooth and consistent chocolate for dipping.
Step 4 -Turn off the boiler since chocolate burns easily but work at a fast pace because as your chocolate cools down it will start to get hard. If your chocolate does start to harden you can slowly warm it up again using your double boiler.
Step 5 - Holding the berry with the toothpick you are going to dip the berry in the warm melted chocolate mixture. Twist the strawberry when it is submerged in the chocolate to make sure that the chocolate soaks in to the seed pits on the berry.
Step 6 - Pull the strawberry out of the chocolate and twist it slowly and consistently to rid it of excess chocolate and prevent excessive dripping.
Step 7 - If you want to add other extras to your berry like sprinkles, coconut etc. you will do that step now by dipping your strawberry in the topping or hand sprinkle the topping on the berry. If you are trying to add white chocolate drizzle you have to wait for the original chocolate shell to harden before drizzling any additional chocolate decoration on the berry.
Step 8 - Stick the end of the toothpick into the Styrofoam so that the berry can dry.
Step 9 - Let the chocolate shell cool on the Styrofoam until the berries have come to room temperature.
Step 10 - If you are looking to add additional drizzle to your berries now is the time to do it.
Step 11 - Cover your room temperature berries with plastic and gently place them in the refrigerator. The plastic wrap over the berries helps reduce sweating that tends to occur on strawberries when they are cooled in the refrigerator.
Step 12 - Your berries are ready to serve!
Source: EzineArticles