Inspired by the brief whiff of spring wafting around yesterday, I attempted to capture a classic summer treat, strawberries and cream, to cheer up what will surely be a fairly miserable March, if past years are anything to go by.
This sweet is a three part concoction: a dark chocolate cup, filled with white chocolate ganache, and topped with a syrupy sweet strawberry. It's rich, delicious and just a little sickly.
Step 1: Setting Up
To begin, gather your ingredients
For the chocolate cups:
~ About 150g Dark chocolate
~12 silicon mini muffin cases, or paper cases triple stacked for stability
For the ganache filling:
~ 150g White chocolate
~ 150ml Double cream
For the strawberries:
~ 150g Strawberries
~ 180g Sugar
~ 30g Liquid glucose
~ 2tbsp Water
~ 3 tbsp Lemon juice
~ 1 tbsp Pimms
In terms of cooking equipment, I often forget some people's lives don't actually revolve around baking and acquiring all the necessary equipment, but I think this is most of what I used: microwave, hob, saucepan, a mutitude of bowl and spoons, seive, knife, chopping board, small paint brush, silcon mini muffin cases, scales, meauring jug, measuring spoons.
That's about it, now we can get to the fun part.
Step 2: Chocolate Cups
Half the fun of these little treats is the delicate chocolate cups they're presented in. This is pretty easy to do, it just takes time and patience.
First, melt the chocolate. I find the easiest way is to break it up into a hetaproof bowl, and give it short 30 second bursts in a microwave, stirring in between until it's smooth.
Lay out the mini muffin cases. The silicon ones are handy, as they peel away easily once the chocolate has set, but with a little more patience and some sharp nails the paper ones are fine. Pour a small spoonful of chocolate into each cup, and using a small pastry or paint brush, brush it up over the sides until the whole thing has been evenly coated.
When this coat has begun to set, after about 10 minutes, apply another in the same way. Two or three coats will be plenty, depending on their thickness. Leave the cups to set fully for a few hours, while you prepare the strawberries.
Step 3: Succulent Strawberries
Since I had this idea in March, it's not exactly the ideal time for strawberries. They might have them at my local grocers, but they don't have that summery burst of taste. Poaching them in this syrup gives a gorgeous sweetness that contrasts well with the bitter chocolate cup.
Hull the strawberries, and if they're on the larger side slice them in half.
For the syrup, take all of the ingredients (sugar, glucose, water, lemon juice, Pimms), put them together in a small saucepan, and gently bring to the boil. Allow the syrup to boil rapidly for a minute.
Tip in the strawberries, and turn the heat right down. Poach the berries on this low heat for about five minutes. Then turn off the heat, cover the pan, and leave them to cool and soak for a couple of hours.
Hook the berries out of the syrup, and drain off any remaining juices.
Step 4: Cream(y Ganache)
After a couple of hours the chocolate will be set, and the strawberries will be bursting with syrupy sweet flavour. Now is the time to make the filling, a simple ganache.
Melt the white chocolate. I do this in the same way as the dark, but use bursts of 20 seconds, since white chocolate can be a little more temperamental, and I have filled my kitchen with the smell of burnt sugar a few too many times.
Once melted, pour over the double cream. Stir the mixture until it is smooth and glossy.
Step 5: Assembly Time
Now you will have all of the ingredients ready to go.
Peel the cases carefully away from the chocolate cups, being gentle so as not to crack the chocolate.
Line the chocolate cases up, and fill each one to the top with the white chocolate ganache.
Allow this a little time to set. Once quite firm (it will always remain a fairly soft and creamy filling), place a strawberry on top of each cup.
Devour! (if your friends don't get there first)
Step 6: Notes and Leftovers
~ Even when drained, the strawberries can be a little oozy, so are best left to place on until the last minute, They can be stored separately in the fridge quite well, as the sugar syrup preserves them.
~ I used Pimms, since it was in my kitchen and seemed perfect for that summer time feel. Any other flavoured alcohol will work, Kirsch, Cointreau etc. Or simply add another tbsp of lemon juice to substitute.
~ The syrupy strawberry recipe yields a fair amount more than needed to decorate the chocolates, but I find that part of the joy of cooking is the never ending supply of leftovers to throw into other concoctions.
The berries are gorgeous as a sneaky treat on their own (though this is coming from a woman who still likes to eat glace cherries out of the tub) or could be thrown into cake batter or used to top some puff pastry in a simple pie.
The syrup has a whole host of uses. Currently I'm thinking of cocktails; some Pimms and soda and a cucumber stick/vodka mint and just a dash of balsamic/something spicy and full of rum. I may feel another instructable coming on ...