Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
by Marilyn Byer, guest speaker

Serves: 12 people, one each. Preparation time: 30-45 minutes. 3 Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

DO NOT wash the strawberries. They will become mushy if washed. If they appear too dry, you may gently wipe them with a damp paper towel. Dump the Oreo® Cookies in a food processor and pulse until ground fine. You can substitute crushed Nuts, Sprinkles or crushed Candy Bars, like Heath® Bars. Line a cookie sheet with Release Foil, a Silpat®, or waxed or parchment paper. Melt the Chocolate Chips in a deep glass bowl in the microwave. You may substitute White or Semi-Sweet Chocolate if you'd like. Heat on HIGH for 30 seconds and stir well. Repeat for 10 seconds more if necessary. Stir briskly until smooth.

Hold the berry by the stem or insert a wooden skewer into the top of the berry, then dip the berry into the warm chocolate. Turn the berry to coat it evenly and scrape off the excess on the side of the bowl. Immediately dip the covered berry in the cookie crumbs or nuts and turn. Place on the cookie sheet to cool. When finished dipping all the berries, place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to solidify the chocolate. After chilling, place each in a paper cup, or alongside another dessert. With Cheesecake slices you can swirl Whipped Cream on top of the slice and put the berry (without the cup) on the top of the Cheesecake slice. Elegant!

This recipe is published by permission, from the book, "The Gild A Lily Cookbook - Marilyn Byer Teaches Elegant Foods and Presentations", available from the author, Marilyn Byer.

"Strawberry" - A red, juicy, heart shaped, fruit (Fragaria), but botanically it's not a berry at all. The 200+ "seeds" are on the outside of the fruit. They are cultivated as "runner plants" on top of long matted mounds. The Romans used wild strawberries for medicinal purposes. Cultivation of strawberries started in Brittany, France in the 1750s. "Strawberries and Cream" was created by Thomas Wolsey in the court of King Henry VIII. Today, China is estimated to be the number one producer (3.1 million tons). The US is the next largest producer (1.4 million tons), especially in Florida near Plant City and California near Watsonville. Strawberries freeze well and are a great source of Vitamin C. Unfortunately, many people are allergic to strawberries. An all white berry variety may be an option for allergy sufferers. A virtually allergen-free cultivar, named "Sofar" is available for home planting; so far as we know!

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