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The Perfect Chocolate Covered Strawberry

Jacques Torres, fondly referred to as Mr. Chocolate, is one of NYC's finest chocolatiers. We sat down with Jacques and asked him a few questions regarding his career and the classic marriage of strawberries and chocolate.

How did you become to be known as "Mr. Chocolate"?

I became Mr Chocolate, 13 years ago, when I opened my first manufacture in DUMBO. That was right after the movie "Chocolat" came out and New York was in need of a chocolatier.

Did you always know you wanted to pursue a career in chocolate?

I come from a family of craftsmen and from very young, I always knew I wanted to create with my hands. Pastry and chocolate are my passion, it became evident.

Now I'd like to transition into how to handle chocolate. Specifically around how chocolate and strawberries interact. The first question I have is, should I wash my berries before dipping them in chocolate?

We [Jacques Torres Chocolate Factory] do wash the strawberries before dipping them, but we also dry them one by one with a paper towel.

What is the best type of chocolate to use for chocolate dipped strawberries?

It depends on the ripeness of the fruit itself. Sweet summer strawberries call for a higher cocoa content chocolate. You need to create contrast!

Why do you prefer to use Driscoll's berries?

Sweetness, quality, durability, shelf life, the consistent shape of the berries, they're less seedy and do not have white shoulders. Not to mention, they are always red, consistent and their firmness lasts longer. But what I like the most is their very flavorful taste.

Are there any differences or tips and tricks for melting milk chocolate versus white chocolate and dark chocolate?

Milk and Dark chocolate are more sensitive to heat, you need to heat them at a lower temperature.

What is your favorite chocolate pairing or combination for Valentine's Day?

Berries bring a lot of freshness to an already smooth and delicious chocolate. It is very sexy to share food, so feeding each other chocolate covered juicy strawberries or simply melted warm chocolate drizzled over assorted fresh berries is a must on Valentine's Day.

What is tempering chocolate? Do I need to temper my chocolate for chocolate dipped strawberries? If yes, what is the best technique for this? Do you need a candy thermometer?

When melting chocolate, molecules of fat get broken down. By creating a crystallization we can put them back together; and this is tempering.If you do not temper your chocolate it will not be crunchy and have this pleasant texture nor will it have that silky shine that makes chocolate covered strawberries so beautiful and perfect.

The best technique is for you to have: microwavable bowl, a microwave, laser thermometer and a hair dryer. Melt to a 100-105F degrees by putting in the microwave on a high heat. Every 20 seconds stop the microwave and stir your chocolate. When melted, let it cool down in front of an open window or a cool air draft area. After 15 to 20 min the chocolate will be crystallized on the side of the bowl. It is time to stir and look at the temperature with a laser thermometer. If it is under 90 F degrees, reheat with a hair dryer until you reach 90 F degrees. I do recommend a laser thermometer because it is more precise.

Do you have a signature chocolate dipped strawberry?

I love making my dipped strawberries looked like tuxedo and wedding gown. Always a winner!

Can you share a couple secret tips on how you make your tuxedo chocolate covered strawberries?

Always temper chocolate, using 2 kinds of chocolate (white and dark) to create contrast like a real tuxedo.

How do you store chocolate covered strawberries so they will last longer than Valentine's Day?

We package them into small individual bags, however, chocolate covered strawberries taste best in the first 24 hours. I recommend eating them right away and not storing them at all.

How do you prevent condensation occurring on the chocolate and in between the chocolate and the berry?

It is very hard because strawberries are made of 90% water. Do not dip when they are very cold, try to use room temperature strawberries. For an even better result, do not put them in the refrigerator but in a cold place.

What's an easy way to make my chocolate dipped strawberries look special and professionally done?

Buy them at my store! But if you want to do them at home: hold your strawberry by the stem (if the straw does not have a stem stick it on a skewer), dip it in the tempered chocolate, shake until it is not dripping anymore. You can leave it this way or roll it right away in your favorite topping: crushed toasted almonds or peanuts, fresh grated coconut, cereal…

How many chocolate dipped strawberries can your shops make in one day?

This year we did 1,500 strawberries [in one day] but we could do 10 times this amount… Stay tuned for the upcoming years!

Check out Driscoll's Chocolate Covered Strawberries recipes.

Visit Jacques Torres' official site to discover more of his fascinating chocolate creations.

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