Chocolate Covered Strawberries: Fake or Real?

As we get closer to Valentine’s Day, many of us start thinking about chocolate covered strawberries. Because it can be hard to find them locally, I usually end up ordering mine online. However, I recently discovered that not all chocolate covered strawberries are the same. In fact, some of them are actually fake chocolate!

I’m not going to go into specific brands, but I think this is important information for those of you who might be ordering chocolate covered strawberries online. The last time that you shopped online for chocolate covered strawberries, what was the actual description of the product advertised. Did it include the word “chocolate” in the ingredients? I’ve recently found out that many of them do not. Many say things like “hand dipped strawberries” or “covered strawberries.” Chocolate isn’t mentioned when you look closely. Why is that? Because those companies are not using real chocolate and the FDA won’t allow them to say “chocolate covered” unless they truly are.

I talked to the owner of ccberries.com to get educated about the differences. Apparently most companies use a candy coating rather than chocolate on their strawberries. In order to be advertised as “chocolate,” the coating must contain cocoa butter…and a lot of cheaper coatings do not. Instead, they use vegetable oil as a cheaper filler.

So if you are looking for chocolate covered strawberries this Valentine’s Day, educate yourself and make sure that you are getting what you pay for. Read descriptions of products called “hand dipped strawberries” carefully and check out their ingredients. Find sites like ccberries.com that actually sell real chocolate covered strawberries so that you or your recipient will not be disappointed.

Chocolate University

Thanks to the Internet, I was able to put together a fun and educational “Chocolate University” for my kids. Here’s how I did it:

Advance Preparation: First, I found a couple of pictures of cocoa beans on the Internet and printed them out. Then I found a YouTube video about the making of chocolate. Next, I purchased various different kinds of chocolate and cut them up. Lastly, my husband made a form for each person with the name of each chocolate.

Chocolates used: Plain cocoa powder, hot cocoa, hot chocolate, white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark milk chocolate, two kinds of dark chocolate with increased cacao contents, peanut butter chocolate, mint chocolate, caramel filled chocolate, and chocolate truffles. Keep in mind that it took very little of each of these–essentially one bite. I cut everything up into small squares.

Class time: I started off by asking them about chocolate and they told me it was sweet. I had them taste the cocoa and explained to them why it was bitter. I then showed them the pictures of the cocoa beans and we watched the video on YouTube.

From there, we started with white chocolate and then worked our way from milk to dark. We ended with the flavored chocolates. For each one, we talked about how it tasted and they “rated” it on their sheet. At the end, we went back through and compared the darkest to the lightest chocolate and a few other things.

The kids had a great time! We videotaped the experience so that we can do it again in a couple of years and compare how our tastes have changed. Not surprisingly, everyone hated the dark chocolate except for me. And everyone loved the peanut butter except for me! The truffle at the end was everyone’s favorite.

If you love chocolate as much as I do and are looking for something different to do with your friends or family, give a homemade Chocolate University a try!