Quick & Easy Chocolate Bark & Dipped Strawberries with Toppings Recipe for Your Valentine (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

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If you’re looking to make some sweets for your sweetheart but haven’t got a lot a time to get organized for a complicated recipe, then these Valentine concoctions are a sure bet. The fool-proof process is so quick and easy, that it really needs no hard-fast formula in order to turn out so delicioso! I tend to make both of the confections at the same time because they use identical shelf-stable ingredients (save one), but make two very different desserts that coordinate beautifully.  (If trying this, simply make the strawberries first then make bark out of the leftover ingredients.) Best of all, these are simple enough to be prepared by little ones, and can be made gluten-free and allergy-friendly for everyone to enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips- preferably gluten-free vegan (or candy coating chips in any color)
  • 1 basket of fresh strawberries to dip (or try dried pieces to place into bark)
  • any toppings you like (oven-toasted coconut, chopped pistachios or walnuts, sugar sprinkles, dried fruit, crushed peppermints, even a contrasting colored chocolate chip, etc…)

Instructions:

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Fill a heat-proof vessel with the chocolate chips of your choice. (Candy coating turns out a bit smoother, but isn’t as healthy or allergy-friendly as gluten-free vegan chocolate morsels. It really is a matter of personal preference.)

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Either stir the chips in a pot on the stove (as I did at this link for Quick & Easy Chocolate Coconut Fondue Recipe (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free) where I write more about the available forms of chocolate) or microwave the chips in a bowl in 30 second bursts, stirring in between each.

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I used the stove for the fondue and the microwave for the bark… again it’s up to you and how much time you have.


For the Chocolate Bark:

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When the chips are completely melted to a liquid state, pour onto an aluminum lined cookie sheet.

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Sprinkle your choice of toppings onto the still warm chocolate.

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Gently press the larger toppings like coconut into the chocolate with the back of your fingers. (Smaller bits like sprinkles don’t need any pressing.) Either allow this to harden on the counter or in the refrigerator.

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This is the fun part… when it’s solid to the touch, take one end and break it by attempting to fold it in half.

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Repeat this with all sections until you’re left with decent sized chunks of yumminess then plate it for company… after reserving a few bites for immediate consumption!


For the Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries:

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Wash the strawberries well, then let them air dry on a paper towel, or pat them dry completely before dipping.

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When the chips are melted thoroughly with no chucky bits left, merely hold your strawberries by the green tops and dip into the chocolate. After completely enrobing it, turn the wrist to let the last drip catch back onto the fruit.

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Then spoon chopped toppings or sprinkles over the still warm chocolate. Gently press any large chunks into place, and then set it aside to dry and harden.

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You can either place the completed strawberries onto aluminum foil and transfer them to a pretty plate later, or do as I’ve done and save a step by dishing them immediately to dry on the platter they will be served on. I always begin with the prettiest of the berries, and when I find that the platter is full… eat the rest!

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🙂 Happy Chocolate err… Valentine’s Day!

Faithfully Yours,

Leigh

P.S. A personal note on washing strawberries to dispel any old-fashioned notions regarding such… I promise that cleansing them of dirt and germs will in no way injure the fruit. In fact, they look even lovelier when truly clean. Wiping them with a towel only serves to redistribute bacteria. (The same can be said of mushrooms, which are often grown in actual manure.) For those of you who are thinking, “Well of course I wash my produce”… I’ve actually had this disagreement with a chef from a very popular up-scale restaurant that only reuses a towel on strawberries and mushrooms. (I hear they don’t wash the salad greens either, and never the lemons before cutting them.) So please forgive me, but with the recent listeria outbreak on caramel apples, I felt compelled to write a little about this now. Here are a few links for anyone who doesn’t want to take my word for it:

http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/types/fruits/tipsfreshprodsafety.html

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/washing-food-does-it-promote-food-safety/washing-food

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/washing-food-does-it-promote-food-safety/washing-food

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