Monday, February 13, 2012

Sugar Free Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Devil or Angel, Will You Be My Valentine?

Sugar free chocolate dipped strawberries.

Sometimes a recipe looks good on paper and totally bombs during execution. This is the story of a sugar free chocolate dipped strawberry that almost “wasn’t.” There were a few tense moments and curses coming from the SusieT kitchen. And had I been anything other than a cheapskate, tightwad, a nearly failed sugar free chocolate ganache would have ended up in the trash bin. But Denny and a quick google and voila! What happened next was so great; I simply had to share – just in case this ever happens to you!

I don’t cook desserts very often. Not only do we count every carb, but I feel our carb budget
is better used for veggies and fruits, but I still don’t have energy that stretches to include making desserts. But in honor of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to make an anti-oxidant rich, decadent tasting and simple dessert that would be devilishly good and heavenly sinless in the sugar and carb department. Enter sugar free chocolate dipped strawberries made with thyme and orange marmalade scented, 85% Lindt chocolate. Yummy!

One of the problems with an estrogen positive breast cancer is that almost every product on the market today includes soybeans in some way, shape, or form. And that sucks buckets! Really it does! Even chocolate falls prey to the soy king. Hmmmph! Soy lecithin is the cheapest form of lecithin and lecithin (although not necessary) gets added to chocolate during production as an emulsifier.

Soy lecithin makes chocolate silky and makes it cheaper to produce, because the chocolatier doesn’t have to conch (stir) the chocolate as long. Some people claim that soy lecithin is harmless, but frankly, having had a high-grade, Stage III, estrogen positive breast cancer, caution wins again. And I avoid any chocolate that contains soy lecithin. And that’s a LONG list! Almost all the chocolates on the market include soy lecithin in their product list. I’ve found a few that don’t.

One of the chocolates that doesn’t have soy lecithin added to it is the Lindt 85% Cacao, Extra Dark Chocolate Bar. It’s a bit on the pricey side at about $2.50/3.5 oz bar, but you can’t put a price on NED (no evidence of disease)! Since the verdict on soy is still out – I will pay more and treat the Lindt bar as a splurge and know I’m making the right decision for me.

I was really excited to make an exotic flavored chocolate for the strawberries. I love the combination of orange with chocolate and also appreciate the use of herbs with it. I have gorgeous lemon thyme in abundance right now and thought it would combine well with the orange peel, marmalade, chocolate and strawberries!

I found an article discussing techniques involved in making ganache. I used to make it all the time in the old high-carb days of my youth, but wanted to try it out with a sugar free face lift. The author in the Washington Times article likes using a food processor to finely chop the chocolate. She then introduces the hot cream to the chocolate while the bowl is running.

I thought, “Hey, that sounds fun!” And decided to try it. The article also talked about using high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to make the ganache shiny. And since I don’t use that miserable ingredient either, decided to roll the dice and see if pectin from a sugar free marmalade might have the same effect as the HFCS. The article mentioned it would work similarly.

Hard to say what caused the chocolate to seize. I was going for a firm ganache which calls for using 1part cream to 2 parts chocolate by weight. Since I was only making a small amount (7oz or 2 bars), there may not have been enough liquid to fully melt the chocolate. Or my cream could have been too hot, which is the most likely explanation. But something “bad”, very bad, oh so bad happened.

Seized chocolate - a disaster in the making!
Fat was everywhere! Grainy chocolate clumped up like a band of brothers. My food processor bowl looked a hot mess. But I calmly called for a little help from Denny with his mad research skills and decided to try to bring the chocolate back from the edge of disaster by adding hot tap water, a tablespoon at a time and stirring it gently with a whisk to recombine. Out of the food processor and into a mixing bowl with a whisk it went.

It worked! What do you know? Just like the instructions said, the chocolate came back together into a cohesive ganache! Miracle! Now, I probably won’t win any contests for the smoothness of my chocolate ganache, but for our purposes, it worked wonderfully. The chocolate strawberries turned out to be smooth and delicious and sinlessly angelic with only 143 calories and 5.1 net carbs for 3 medium chocolate dipped strawberries.

Oh, guess what? The recipe made 24 medium sugar free chocolate dipped strawberries and I still had ganache left over! Score! I will splurge once more and attempt to make a sugar free chocolate mousse with the leftover ganache. I will let you know how it turns out! Maybe I will post that recipe too?

In the meantime, do try making the sugar free chocolate dipped strawberries. The combination of the fresh thyme and orange marmalade with the bittersweet chocolate and succulent berries was a keeper! I would simply use a different method to combine the cream and melt the chocolate. My recipe included below uses the standard, double boiler method instead of the new- fangled food processor method. There’s still enough time to make these little devilish angels for Valentine’s Day!

Oh, psssst?! Blueberries go great with this chocolate ganache, too! Oh baby, be mine!

Sugar Free Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Yield 24 Dipped Strawberries
(1/2 Recipe of Leftover Ganache)
Preparation Time – 20 Minutes
Cooking Time – 10 Minutes

5 fl oz Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp Polaner’s Sugar Free Orange Marmalade
2 strips Orange Peel
1 Tbsp Truvia
4-5 sprigs Thyme (any variety – I used lemon thyme) – Don’t use dried thyme here!!
2 Bars Lindt 85% Cacao Extra Dark Chocolate (3.5oz each)
24 Medium Strawberries

Tie sprigs of thyme together with butcher’s twine. When making the orange peel strips, use a vegetable peeler, being certain to avoid getting any of the white pith on the peel. The pith makes the orange bitter.

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a small sauce pan. Heat cream over medium heat until it comes to a slow simmer. This happens quickly, maybe 3-4 minutes, so watch to make sure the cream doesn’t scald.

Remove cream from heat and cover pan with a lid. Let cream steep for 10-15 minutes in order to develop flavors from the orange peel and thyme.

While cream is steeping, finely chop chocolate bars. I use a chef knife and shave it. The smaller the chocolate pieces, the more consistently it will melt.

Place two inches of water into a medium sauce pan and bring water to just below boiling. Turn off heat under pan and allow water to sit.

Off the heat, pour chocolate pieces into a stainless or glass mixing bowl. Strain cream into chocolate and allow it to sit undisturbed for 1 minute.

Place mixing bowl with chocolate and cream over saucepan with water. This is called a double boiler.

Begin stirring to combine. Be gentle here and try to introduce as little air as possible. Remove as soon as chocolate is melted and evenly glossy. Remove mixing bowl from the double boiler if you see the chocolate is getting too hot or if you see it begin to clump!

If chocolate seizes up. Don’t panic!

Simply remove mixing bowl from heat and begin adding hot water, one tablespoon at a time, stirring with a whisk after each addition of water.

The chocolate will come back together again. (Mine took 10 tablespoons of water!) You can also use milk, but I used water and it worked just fine.

Once you've saved your chocolate (and the world) with your super powers, it's time to dip strawberries! I find dipping half the berry gives you enough chocolate for satisfaction and saves a few calories - something I have to be concious of because of my post menopausal body and because of the medicines I'm taking.

Three berries per person makes a perfect serving size!

Remember strawberries are on the Big 12 list of most polluted crops. It's worth it in the long run to use organicly grown strawberries and avoid all the pesticides! Enjoy.

Nutritional Information

Nutrition Label – Full Recipe Sugar Free Chocolate Ganache

Nutrition Label – Single Serving

SusieT’s Notes:
I had to subtract a fork from my rating of this recipe because the chocolate texture could have been better – thank you Seizemeister! *annoyed* But the flavor of the chocolate with the orange and herby notes from the lemon thyme really elevated this dessert from simple chocolate dipped strawberries. It felt much more sophisticated and unusual! It was well worth the extra effort to infuse the cream with the herbs and orange notes.


  1. These would be a big hit in my home.

  2. You should totally try them! They take care of the need for chocolate without completely destroying your diet!!! :) And it's really easy too - especially if you bypass seizing the chocolate! LOL!

  3. I know Diane!? Right? He made like Under Dog and saved the day!!! Can you believe how that chocolate came back together? The water secret works for any butter based sauce too! For some reason added in small increments at a time, it helps re-emulsified high fat sauces!

    Hugs hon and great to see you here!

  4. If there is sugar in the Lindt 85% Dark Chocolate bars, how is this sugar-free? .... Looking to make something similar for a friend who cant have any sugar. I was thinking of just using Sugar Free Dark Chocolate chips ($8 a bag at and melting them in the microwave, but wanted to explore other options first.

    1. Ok, great question. And fair.

      I use Lindt85 because it's one of the only chocolate bars that does not have soy lecithin in it. It's also VERY low carb when eaten in small quantities as I eat it.

      Nutrition Facts for Lindt 85%
      Serving Size - 4 Squares (40g)
      Servings per Bar - 2.5

      Calories 230
      Fat 18g
      Sat Fat 11g
      Trans Fat 0g
      Cholesterol 0g
      Sodium 15mg
      Total Carbs 15g
      Fiber 6g
      Sugars 5g
      Protein 5g
      Alcohol 0g

      So when I eat Lindt, I only eat 1 square or sometimes 2 squares at the very most!! That means I eat about 1.5g to 3g of Net Effective Carbs per event. (15g Carbs - 6g Fiber = 9g Net Effective Carbs for 4 squares. Divide by 4 and you get 1.5g Net Carb per square. Multiply by 1 or 2 and you either have 1.5g or 3.0g)

      So each one of those strawberries probably uses a maximum of 1/4square per berry. I used the smaller berries if you notice. That way you get more quantity without having a huge carb expenditure.

      Soooo continuing the math. Since 1 square equals the chocolate used on 4 strawberries. Each strawberry only has about .375g of Carbs coming from the chocolate element. That's pretty negligible from my perspective and that includes carbs from the sugar component and the cacao component in the chocolate.

      If you do the math for the sugars in it:

      5g Sugar per serving of 4 squares. If we use 1 square for 4 strawberries that means each square of chocolate has 1.25g of Sugar in it. And if you know that 1 square of chocolate partially dips 4 strawberries, then each strawberry gets 0.3125g of Sugar from the Chocolate.

      The US Government stipulates that any food containing <1g of a substance can legally be labelled sugar free.

      So that's why I refer to the strawberries as sugar free. Oh btw, I also only eat 2-3 berries in a serving! So it's further reduced.

      But having explained the concept, the real reality is that your friend cannot have ANY sugar. In that case, please use an Unsweetened Chocolate - like Baker's (yuk) or something similar. Check the label for 0g Sugar. You will most likely need to add a bit more cream and you will need to sweeten it. I would start by melting powdered Erythritol and Xylitol and Stevia in the cream. Then add that to the chocolate etc...

      Hope that helps.


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