Chocolate dipped strawberries are *SO* 1997….
It was at a high school semi-formal that I had my first juicy strawberry dipped in dark chocolate. It was absolutely divine. Being teenagers, we descended on the dessert tray like a pack of ravenous jackals, picking through the debris and choking on bits of cocktail napkin in our haste. In 1997, chocolate dipped strawberries were simply the height of sophistication and eating them, of course, demonstrated infinite sophistication and worldly wisdom. I don’t know why. They just did. That is, until they were everywhere.
Within a few years, chocolate covered strawberries were ubiquitous at parties and catering companies started to branch out creatively. For example, there was the chocolate covered strawberry with a white chocolate drizzle. Be still my barely beating heart. There were also strawberries that were bathed in white chocolate and had a dark chocolate drizzle, or the penultimate classic: tuxedo strawberries. If you’re wondering where the strawberries dressed like penguins are, I refuse to even dignify that with a response.
Don’t get me wrong, here. If I pass a tray of chocolate covered strawberries, I’m going to stop and eat one (dozen) of them. There is a reason that these little confections became so popular, and the sweet simplicity only adds to their well earned popularity. Frankly, there is very little that one can say to criticize the perfect pairing of ripe strawberries and a rich, sweet chocolate. However, as we age our tastes start to change, and now when I see strawberries I’m not thinking about saccharine chocolate and candy coatings. I’m thinking about tangy crème fraîche, or a drizzle of ruby Port with freshly ground pepper. I’m not the same girl I was in high school, so why should I stick to the same old berries??
Strawberries stuffed with a tangy lemon scented goat cheese, sweetened with honey, are an elegant twist on a classic treat. A sprinkle of coarsely chopped pistachios is just gilding the lily. Also, I really like how the green cap looks like the strawberry’s stem and hull. Clever little bits of artistry never cease to delight me, which means that I am, officially, still a dork. Perhaps I am the same girl I was in high school, only now I eat a lot more cheese.
Stuffed Strawberries with Honey and Pistachio
- 1 lb (450 g or ~ 2 pints) ripe strawberries
- 1 package (8 oz) mild goat cheese, softened *
- 2 tbsp thick honey **
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 1/3 cup pistachios
* I generally stuff these strawberries with a honeyed goat cheese combination, but this time they were for a pregnant friend. Not all goat cheese is pasteurized, and I didn’t want to be the girl who passed around a plate of listeria, so despite the limited risk I opted to use cream cheese instead. If you’re not down with the goat, cream cheese is a perfectly creamy substitute.
** My current addictions include researching pictures of celebrities without their makeup on, watching Teen Wolf and eating Greek honey. I absolutely adore Greek honey. Next week I might be back to the buckwheat or wildflower honey, but right now the Greeks have my heart.
Let the cheese sit at room temperature for an hour until it is soft and easily spreads. Add the finely grated lemon zest and drizzle on the honey. Stir the mixture together until it is smooth and combined.
Toast the pistachios lightly in the oven or a dry frying pan. Take them off the heat when they are fragrant and starting to color but not browned. Coarsely chop the pistachios and set them aside.
Wash the strawberries well under cold water. Remove the stems and hollow out the fruit so you have a strawberry ‘cup’. You could discard the scooped out pulp if you wish, but I like to think of that as the Chef’s Tax and munch as I go.
If you have strong knife skills then you could use a paring knife, but my favorite tool for the task has got to be a tomato corer. Whether you go high end or low end (mine cost about $1.99 at a kitchen store), this little tool is perfect for coring and seeding tomatoes, hulling strawberries or creating the teensiest little melon balls that are perfect for a cocktail.
Spoon the cheese mixture into a piping bag or a small plastic sandwich baggie. If using a baggie, snip off the corner to let the cheese squeeze out. Fill each strawberry up with a generous amount of the cheese mixture and mound it slightly at the top.
Gently press the cheese filled top of the strawberry into the pistachios.
Et voila! Elegant, tangy but creamy stuffed strawberries can be yours.
Now if only I could give up my old paint splattered overalls and Ani DiFranco CDs…..well, one step at a time.