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Fantastic Piece of Art: Chocolate Covered Strawberry Tree

To be honest: I could never ever prepare such a magnificent dessert like this chocolate covered strawberry tree.

The recipe is from Elaine Gonz√°lez. She is an award-winning chocolate instructor who appears regularly at chocolate festivals, trade shows, and food conferences.

Besides the Chocolate Covered Strawberry Tree you can find many more Pieces of Chocolate Art in her book The Art of Chocolate: Techniques and Recipes for Simply Spectacular Desserts and Confections

Ingredients:

- 4 or 5 pints fresh strawberries
- 12-inch Styrofoam cone
- 2 pounds semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate in chunks (for tempering)
(substitute 2 pounds chocolate-flavored confectionery coating)

Directions:

1. Using as many dampened paper towels as necessary, clean the surface of the strawberries. Arrange them by size on a large, paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Set aside to air dry.

2. Cover the Styrofoam cone tightly with waxed paper, securing it with tape. Set the cone on a waxed-paper-lined cardboard or small baking sheet.

3. Melt and temper the chopped chocolate. Secure the bottom of the cone to the lined cardboard with a dollop of chocolate.

4. The placement of strawberries begins at the base of the cone. Select large ones for the bottom rows and increasingly smaller ones as you reach the top. Grasp a large berry by its hull and submerge it half way into the melted chocolate. Immediately position it against the surface of the cone, pointed end up. Continue in that manner around the base to form the first row, with the strawberries touching each other. Allow the chocolate to begin to set before continuing.

5. To form each subsequent row, wherever possible, position the strawberries, pointed end up and hull pointed outward, in between those in the previous row. Position one large dipped strawberry on the top of the cone, forming a point.

6. Once the cone is covered with dipped strawberries, set it aside until the chocolate is completely dry before proceeding. Slide a large metal, offset spatula under the cone to release it from the lined cardboard. With gloved hands, lift and rest the tree on its side on a cushion of stacked, soft cloths. Release the waxed paper covering the bottom of the cone. Jab the bottom of the cone with a fork to enable you to pull it out of the center of the tree. Discard the waxed paper liner. Place the chocolate covered strawberry tree on a serving plate.

Note: The Chocolate Covered Strawberry Tree may be stored at a cool room temperature, lightly covered, for several hours before serving.

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