For this Valentine’s Day, we’re keeping it simple. There will be no fancy dinner at a candlelit restaurant, no scheduled seating time. Instead we will be having a simple, quiet meal at home. I can’t think of anything more romantic than sharing a meal with my favorite person. Just the two of us, some food, wine, and excellent conversation.
Given that it’s our first Valentine’s Day together, we’re both a bit awkward about the whole thing. On the one hand, we want nothing more to show our love for one another. On the other hand, both of us, separately, always regarded Valentine’s Day with a bit of indifference. In my single days (and believe me I’ve spent many a Valentine’s Day single!) I never felt odd about not being one to receive flowers, chocolate, or not having a date.
Instead, I approached the day as an opportunity to indulge myself: a massage, a pedicure, a striking handbag. Last year, my friend Jane and her husband Geoff invited me over for an anti-Valentine’s Day Valentine’s Day and we sat in their apartment, snowbanks and howling wind outside, playing with their toddler daughter Sasha, eating the most incredible tomato soup, and chewing on heart-shaped graham crackers I had made earlier that morning. It was an excellent day all around. I couldn’t have wanted a different way to spend it.
But this being our first Valentine’s Day together, I want to do something a little special. Understated, but special nonetheless. I asked Andrew what he wanted and without skipping a beat his eyes lit up, “Chocolate covered strawberries,” he said. It wasn’t the soufflé I envisioned or a fudgy brownie I was hoping for. But despite the fact that strawberries aren’t exactly in season mid-February, I figured that one of the best ways to eat them was to dip them in chocolate and indulge a little. What doesn’t chocolate make better, I ask? And also, it isn’t exactly rocket science, takes only a bit of time (particularly great in the early morning before your tea kicks in), and I can’t tell you how much fun it is to dip the strawberry into the shiny, silky, melty chocolate and watch the chocolatey drips swirl around the strawberry tip. For a few moments, I feel like a bone fide chocolatier. Plus, I get to lick my chocolate-stained fingers – bonus!
So after agreeing not to observe Valentine’s Day, we’re now backpedaling, in unison. At first, we said card exchange only. Then, we agreed to a modest gift exchange. And the next thing you know, I’m planning a dinner, hand-dipping strawberries in chocolate and humming “My Funny Valentine”. If the whole thing smacks of cavity-inducing sweetness, forgive me. Valentine’s Day, in general, strikes me of something of an awkward situation. You know how it is – you don’t want to be the person who doesn’t do anything on Valentine’s Day (because, come on — buy a card, already!), but if you’re like me, and feel that romance is best served with a healthy element of surprise, then to you it’s just another day, out of many, to show someone you really love them. It could be your husband or wife, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your friends or family. It doesn’t matter so much, because what’s more important here is that you are loved in return. And there’s no greater gift than that.
There’s no limit to how much fun you can make this – want to drizzle a bit of white chocolate on top and create pretty drizzle pattern? Melt 3 ounces of white chocolate following the same instructions below and drizzle on the already-dipped strawberry, using a fork to create fun lines. Or add melty white chocolate to a pasty bag and using the finest, smallest opening, dot white chocolate polka-dots all over the strawberries. And yes, as a reward, you’re entitled to at least one dipped strawberry before anyone else is allowed to touch them. Chef’s rules!
6 ounces (172 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 pound strawberries, with stems (if you can find them, or regular are fine), washed and dried very well
1. Place the chocolate into a heatproof medium bowl. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set the bowl of chocolate over the water to melt. Stir until smooth. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolates in a microwave at half power, for 1 minute, stir and then heat for 15 second increments, until melted.)
2. If using the double-boiler method, once the chocolate are melted and smooth, remove from the heat.
3. Line a sheet pan with waxed paper. Tilt the bowl with chocolate for better dipping, and, holding the strawberry by the stem, dip the fruit into the dark chocolate, lift and twist slightly, letting any excess chocolate fall back into the bowl. Set strawberries on the parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the strawberries.
4. Set the strawberries aside until the chocolate sets, about 30 minutes.
Makes about 12-16 strawberries depending on size and how many fit in your pound container.