Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

I've only had two dogs in my life - Derek, my current canine and love of my life, and Tina, aka Scrunch, the dog of my childhood, whom we treated like people.

When Scrunch arrived on the scene, I would have been three years old. She was a little black and tan bundle, supposedly my mother's dog, but absolutely devoted to my dad. Scrunch had a pretty good life as a dog - she first took up residence with us in Newcastle and then in Penrith, both houses having fairly decent back yards for a dog to roam around in. She didn't necessarily do much of that - her thing was sun baking. Scrunch wore a small round patch in the grass near the clothesline where she curled up to catch some rays every day while we were off at work, school or whatever.

Our yard in Newcastle had a vegetable garden in it, in which Mum liked to grow all manner of things. I mostly remember the fresh mint, parsley and chives because I was often sent out to pick a bunch of one or the other (or all three) to add to something Mum was cooking at the time. But Mum also took a shot at growing beans and strawberries, which turned out to be most interesting to Scrunch. Mum arrived home from work one day and headed down the back yard to check on her produce. She was horrified to find all the tiny strawberries gone, and the remains of the beans hanging in shreds off their stalks - Scrunch had eaten them all!

The dog was a gourmet! I don't ever remember her being fed dog food (although I could be wrong). She was people - and she ate people food. Roast beef, spaghetti bolognese, barbecued chicken - it was all an everyday part of her palate. And she didn't just eat anything either - she'd pick onions out of meals she was served, leaving them strewn on the newspaper placemat under her dish. She could also sniff out a box of chocolates from fifty paces. I remember receiving many a box of chocolates for my tenth birthday, all identified by Scrunch well before they'd even been unwrapped. And the thing Scrunch liked the most - a chocolate paddle pop. We always saved the last bit for her, which she diligently licked off the stick in a most people-like manner. (I was utterly shocked when I offered Derek his first paddle pop - he chewed it! I attempted to teach him how to lick the thing off the stick, but thus far he's never gotten the hang of it, and at eight years old... well, you know what they say about teaching old dogs new tricks!).

incidentally, when we put the house in Newcastle up for sale, the real estate agent was mortified by our vegetable garden, which fallow at the time. "Get rid of it!" he told my mother in no uncertain terms. "It looks like a grave!". Little did he know it had been Scrunch's daily source of gastronomic delights!

125g dark cooking chocolate
30g copha (vegetable solid)
1 punnet of strawberries

1. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwave proof bowl with the copha. Heat on high in microwave for approximately three minutes. Chocolate retains its form in the microwave even once it's melted, so check periodically by stirring with a spoon. Copha takes a fair bit of heat to melt, so don't microwave the chocolate until the copha melts! Instead, stir the solid copha into the melted chocolate until both are well combined.

2. Pour choc-copha mix into a small container big enough for deep dipping.

3. Wash strawberries, leaving on their green caps. Pat dry with absorbent kitchen paper.

4. Carefully hold single strawberry by green stalk and dip into chocolate, leaving a few millimetres of red skin exposed at the top. Allow excess chocolate to run back into the container, then lie strawberry on one side on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Repeat until all strawberries are coated with chocolate.

5. Place baking tray with strawberries on it in refrigerator and leave for 10 minutes. Chocolate will harden and develop a beautiful semi-matte sheen. Carefully peel each strawberry off baking paper and present on plain white plate to guests who will be stunned by your culinary skills!

1 comment:

pollyanna54 said...

Hello Petrina,
I think your chocolate recipe and your story about your doggies were lovely. I needed the right quantities and proportions of chocolate, copha and strawberries to make a "strawberry bouquet" that I have seen and you had exactly what I needed. I'm going to use dark, milk and white chocolate, and dip some of the brown choc ones in pink sprinkles, then put the strawbs on skewers in a glass vase to make a bouquet.

I love your blog and your pages -- good luck with you plans : )