The supremacy of certain foods is so obvious as to never be questioned. Heinz is synonymous with ketchup for a reason; a complete block of cheddar has more flavor than a bag of the shredded stuff, hands down.
But there’s one unchallenged heavyweight that I’ve never understood, and that’s chocolate-covered strawberries’ reputation for being a special, sinful indulgence. Why, I ask you, is a chocolate-covered strawberry the presumed champion of treats—and, as the chocolate-covered fruit trend catches fire each spring, why isn’t anyone voicing the contrary opinion?
My objections to the fruit and chocolate combination are manifold. I have organized my dissent into the categories below.
The hardened chocolate that enrobes a dipped strawberry (or any fruit, but particularly a spherical one) responds to a bite in a radically different way than the flesh of the strawberry does. I could not locate the correct term in Newtonian physics to describe the pressures placed onto a sphere, but essentially, the chocolate shatters while the strawberry yields. If there exists any possible way to get a clean bite with a good ratio of chocolate to berry, then it requires too much delicacy to execute. I’m always left with shards of chocolate and drips of berry juice dribbling down from ground zero.
The chocolate and the fruit just don’t respond the same way to the ambient temperature that surrounds them. To keep the chocolate from getting gummy, these desserts must be kept frozen or refrigerated immediately prior to serving, and while biting into a thin coating of frozen chocolate is nothing for the tooth to handle, it’s a rude awakening to your nerve endings when you then hit the frigid juices of the fruit beneath. Also, no matter what fruit you use—strawberry, pineapple, grapes—if it hasn’t been thoroughly dried first, the chocolate captures all the water on the surface of the fruit in the worst possible way. And it’s never thoroughly dried first.
Frigid fruit. It just doesn’t have as much discernible taste as room-temperature fruit, and I’d argue that the same is true for cold chocolate. This dessert requires a temperature range that all but guarantees minimal flavor, and even if it’s made with the ripest fruit dipped into the highest quality chocolate, served at optimum thaw, you’re still just making two sweet things sweeter than they ought to be.
Finally, at the risk of yucking the majority of the population’s yum, a needling philosophical note on fruit and chocolate: I have always loved that fruit already feels like a treat on its own. It’s reassuring that the universe provides for the sweet tooth in this way, even while delivering vitamins and nutrients. Fruit comes through beautifully in thousands upon thousands of desserts, from strawberry shortcake to bananas foster. But the blunt corrective of dipping that fruit directly in chocolate, cloaking its essence in a bid to make it more palatable than it already is, will always feel artless. No matter how many decorative swizzles adorn them.