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January 14, 2010

Nuts (Recipe: chocolate and hazelnut dipped strawberries) {gluten-free}

Chocolate and hazelnut dipped strawberries

According to botanists, nuts are composites of a plant's seed and fruit, where the fruit does not open to release the seed.

Cooks are more open-minded, including in the category anything that looks or acts like a nut. Pine nuts, almonds, cashews and pistachios are actually seeds, and peanuts aren't nuts at all.

They're all in my pantry, all of those nuts and seeds, and peanuts, too (legumes, despite their name). Because, as you know, I'm a very open-minded cook.

Nuts

At any time, my freezer contains half a dozen small bags of nuts: walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, cashews, pistachios, and hazelnuts or macadamias. The oil in the nuts spoils quickly; storing them in the freezer will prevent rancidity and the nuts will keep for a year.

In most recipes, you can substitute one nut for another, and you can use nuts without defrosting them first.

Nuts are available year-round, in every type of market, so stock up when they're on sale. A handful of nuts can become pesto, a topping for salad, or a heart-healthy afternoon snack.

Strawberries 

Chocolate and hazelnut dipped strawberries

Sometimes the most popular desserts I serve are the easiest to prepare: a bowl of ice cream, a baked apple, a cold fruit salad in summer. This dessert took ten minutes to prepare, and even less time to eat! If you can find the gigantic strawberries with stems still attached, those are perfect. If not, substitute toothpicks or bamboo picks for the stems. Serves 6.

Ingredients

4-oz bar of semi-sweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet baking chocolate)
1 cup of hazelnuts (could be pistachios, macadamias, walnuts, peanuts)
18 large strawberries

Directions

Cover a plate or baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Break the chocolate into small pieces, and place in a glass measuring cup. Melt in the microwave by heating for 30 seconds. Stir, heat for another 30 seconds. Stir again. If necessary, heat for 20 seconds more. Stir. The chocolate should be melted and smooth.

Place the nuts in a food processor and pulse 10 times, or chop roughly with a knife.

If the strawberries have some grit on them, wash them and dry gently with a soft towel. If there's no stem, stick a toothpick in the stem end. Dip each strawberry in the chocolate, and twirl it over the measuring cup to allow the excess to drip off. Then roll the strawberry in the chopped nuts.

Set strawberries on the parchment-covered plate, and refrigerate for 20 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden. Then, arrange on a serving dish, and store in the refrigerator. Fifteen minutes before you want to serve dessert, remove the dish from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Truffles
Maple nut cookies
Amaretti cookies
Banana or strawberry Nutella quesadillas

Comments

always a classic - chocolate covered strawberries! i like dipping them in pistachios or grated coconut as the color contrasts look awesome! i love nuts though in almost all forms that is why i dedicated a whole post to them in my "Nutology" a little while back!

I can't wait to dive into these Lydia.

I'm about to post a recipe for chocolate-dipped strawberries in a couple of minutes, so it was funny to see that you have the same thing posted today!

I always keep bags of nuts in my freezer, practically every kind of nut imaginable.

I like your "equal opportunity" approach to nuts. Let's hear it for "nut democracy!"

Lydia, these are gorgeous. I love nuts, and try to keep a variety at all times. (unfortunately, I have kids that like to eat my stash, causing me to gripe and complain when I reach for nuts that are no longer there!)

I could eat this right off the screen, great photos! Love the idea of a dessert that has some very nutritious components!

I love the way those strawberries look.

Paz

Hazelnuts are my favorite and I am lucky to live in Oregon where they are grown. These are beauties.

Another kryptonite post---chocolate covered strawberries! (I agree with Meeta, loved cc strawberries dipped in chopped pistachios.)

One of the best tips I ever learned (aside from yours--storing nuts in the freezer), was to lightly toast any nuts before added them to recipes. It really lets their natural flavor shine and adds such a nice dimension to muffins, breads, salads & more.

Simply gorgeous, Lydia!

shame on you for tempting me while i diligently focus on P90x!!

these look amazing and perfect for valentines Day!

Beautiful photo! I want to eat them right now!
By the way, I am doing a giveaway; organic goodies I brought back with me from Beirut this past week.

I remember the last time I had dipped strawberries, was when I bought a 100% dark chocolate and the choc was just too bitter to nibble on ( I don't bake). I had to melt that choc, mix it with a sweeter choc and coat it on the strawberries. :P

They are very decadent-looking!

I have recently had lamingtons on the brain (something I'm blogging about), and was attracted to these because they are chocolate dipped, and coated with nuts. They're like lamingtoned strawberries! :) Beautiful.

DELICIOUS! that dessert never gets old!

Meeta, I actually found some pistachios in my freezer after I wrote this post. You're so right; the color will be amazing with those.

Val, Paz, Momgateway, Carol: I love making these. So simple, and loved by everyone.

Nupur, that's been happening to me all week. Great minds think alike, you know!

Pam, I store lots of different nuts in the freezer. I'm not a big nut user, so they last a long time and I never have to toss out rancid nuts.

TW, I like to think of myself as open-minded in all things culinary, except cauliflower and pork.

Alta, but nuts are such healthy snacks for kids, who could blame them for raiding your stash?!

Kalyn, thanks; I'm always pleased and a bit surprised when the photos look good enough to eat!

Noble Pig, a friend whose mom lived in Oregon used to send packages of prunes and hazelnuts/walnuts. It was a luxury to have them in the freezer.

Sandie, great idea to toast the nuts before using in this dish. It really would make everything taste better. Next time I will try that.

Bren, what a lovely compliment!

Daryl, now all we need are V-Day dates and a bottle of bubbly.

Beirut, I'm always happy when the photos look delicious.

Tigerfish, my husband loves really dark chocolate, but for me it's too bitter. This semi-sweet tasted just right with the fruit.

Mr. P., I love the image of lamingtoned strawberries!

Lydia, these are so pretty! I love each and every ingredient involved, so... Yum!

I also love all sorts of nuts - and there is always something delicious to be baked with them! Almonds are my favorite, I guess. :D

I love the added hazelnuts!

Wish I had some of these right now. With Valentine's day coming up this will be the perfect make ahead treat and not so bad for my hiney either!

Positively gorgeous, Lydia!

They look extra special with the chopped hazelnuts! :)

Wow -- I can just eat them off the screen. Very nice pic. Will definitely try this one. Thanks for sharing!

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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