Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Cookies

 I am one of those people who loves Valentine’s Day. Yes, I know it’s more of a greeting card holiday than anything else, but I just don’t see anything wrong with setting aside one extra day to acknowledge all the love we have in our lives. I know we’re supposed to do that everyday, but it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of real life and forget to be grateful.

It’s not just a day for couples. Romantic love is like nothing else and I’ve been fortunate to experience it, but the idea that it’s all that matters on Valentine’s Day (or any day) is just false. As far as I’m concerned, Valentine’s Day is about taking a little extra time to show love and gratitude to everyone you hold dear. My mom sends me a valentine every year (and is actually visiting over the holiday this year!), and my best pal, Tad, is always my valentine. And as a nanny, I have a bunch of little valentines, too. And since it’s impractical (and a little silly) to buy gifts for everyone I love, I think I’ll just hand out cookies instead.

No Valentine’s Day treat is more iconic than chocolate-dipped strawberries, but because fresh fruit coated in chocolate simply isn’t my thing, I’ve taken the simple combination and made it into these fabulous cookies. Since its February, strawberries aren’t in season. Even if they were, putting juicy fresh berries in cookie dough would result in cakey cookies, which are a travesty as far as I’m concerned. If I want something cakey, I’ll have a piece of cake! When it comes to cookies though, I want them to be soft and chewy. 

 So, how do we get tons of strawberry flavor into cookies without using fresh berries or artificially-flavored cake mix? With freeze-dried strawberries! You might recognize them as those crunchy berries in your breakfast cereal. They’re just fresh strawberries that have been completely dehydrated–no sweeteners or artificial stuff, just pure fresh strawberry flavor! I get mine at Trader Joe’s, but they can be found in most well-stocked grocery stores. Simply put them in a food processor or blender and blitz them into a fine powder. If you don’t have either kitchen appliance, place them in a gallon-size zip-top bag and use a rolling pin to crush them. Then, mix the gorgeous pink powder into a soft drop sugar cookie dough. Chill it for a little while and then bake for just a few minutes, until the cookies are just starting to turn golden. 

 For the chocolate dip, you’ll just need good-quality chocolate chips and the tiniest bit of coconut oil. I use Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips here because I find that they melt more smoothly than most other brands. The coconut oil helps to give the chocolate a little sheen, and also helps it firm up. Coconut oil naturally solidifies at temperatures below 76F, so once the chocolate dip on these cookies sets, it will stay that way until it’s time to eat them. I like to dip each cookie halfway, but think these would look gorgeous drizzled with chocolate, like on my Almond Joy Cookies {Grain-Free}. I like to top the still-wet chocolate dip with sprinkles…because sprinkles. Aren’t these little hearts adorable?

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Cookies would be wonderful for gifting or parties, and of course, keeping in the cookie jar to share with someone you love. And who doesn’t love cookies? I think they’re my valentine this year.

  
Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Cookies
makes about 3.5 dozen cookies

Strawberry Cookies:
1 1.2-ounce package freeze-dried strawberries*
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3-5 drops liquid red food coloring, optional*

Chocolate Dip:
1 1/2 cups good-quality semisweet chocolate chips*
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
sprinkles, optional

In a food processor or blender, process freeze-dried strawberries until they are a fine powder. Transfer the powder to a large mixing bowl. Add flour, cornstarch, baking powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt, and whisk to combine. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat softened butter until light and fluffy. Beat in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by eggs, vanilla, and optional food coloring. Add dry ingredients in three installments, scraping the bowl as necessary. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 90 minutes, or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop dough by the tablespoon and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until no longer wet-looking and starting to turn light golden. Let cool on baking sheets for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Once all cookies have been baked and cooled, make the chocolate dip. In a double boiler or the microwave, melt chocolate chips and coconut oil together. Stir until smooth. Dip each cookie halfway into the mixture before placing back on the rack. Top with sprinkles, if desired. Chocolate dip will solidify after a few hours at room temperature, or after 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Cookies will keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.

Notes:

1. I use Trader Joe’s brand freeze-dried strawberries.
2. The cookies pictured have three drops liquid red food coloring.
3. I use Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips.

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