The weekend is upon us. Which weekend? If you're really asking that, then you can just get out now. For it is Super Bowl weekend, when many people who don't usually host parties are frantically trying to figure out what to serve to their football-watching guests. And they should be frantic, since the world of snacks is large and imposing, tasty though it may be. Veggies and dip? Tacos? Wings? Pigs in their pillowy, bready blankets? There are endless choices, so I make sure that my Super Bowl snacks fall into at least one of these categories:
- Potato or tortilla chip compatible
- Contains meat of some kind
- Can be eaten with hands
- Contains alcohol
If it doesn't fit into one of those categories, then it doesn't belong in your snack spread. Fork foods? Nope! Vegetable-based dishes? BZZT. Mini quiches? Sorry! Tofu? GET THAT OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW DO YOU HEAR ME!?
To help you on your Super Bowl snack journey (and make no mistake, it is a JOURNEY), I want to share with you one of my favorite simple recipes, which neatly falls into the "chocolatey" and "contains alcohol" categories: drunken chocolate strawberries.
- 1lb strawberries -- I know, they're out of season, which makes them more expensive and of lesser quality than you'd find during the summer. But remember, you're using them as a vehicle for chocolate and alcohol. They don't need to be the best strawberries you've ever tasted. They just need to be ripe. One pound will get you between 15 and 20 strawberries (depending on the size), so if you're having more than 10 guests, feel free to double or triple this recipe.
- 1 bag chocolate chips -- Either milk or dark chocolate is fine, whatever your personal preference is. I would recommend using chips, but you can also chop up a bar of baking chocolate and melt that instead.
- 1 bottle cheap flavored vodka -- I typically use Burnett's vodka, which retails for a cool $8.99 a bottle. And before you get up in arms about the cheap vodka, remember what you're using this for. You're going to be soaking strawberries in it and then dipping those strawberries in chocolate. I would suggest you save the nice vodka for an actual drink and use the cheap hooch for this. No one will know the difference. (And if someone can tell you're using the cheapest vodka imaginable? Tell them they can pony up the cash for a bottle of Grey Goose next time around. And then tell them to leave.) As far as the vodka flavor, you want to stick with sweet, desserty flavors like whipped cream, chocolate, caramel, and cake. Fruit flavored vodkas will either clash horribly with the strawberry and chocolate, or get completely lost.
Note: Ideally, this is not a same day recipe. You want to start this the day before you hope to serve them.
1. Wash your strawberries. Even though you'll be soaking them in alcohol for 24 hours, you still want to exercise basic food safety and wash off whatever is on there.
2. Cut -- or don't cut -- your strawberries. This is a very important decision. Leaving the leafy green tops attached to the strawberries gives you something to hold when you dip them in chocolate, and saves your fingers from getting very messy. But the berries take in less vodka when the tops are attached. If you cut the tops off, the vodka is free to flow right in there. If you can stand getting your fingers covered with chocolate, I'd suggest cutting the tops off so you can make the most of your cheap, cheap vodka.
3. Find a bowl or tupperware container for the strawberries and then drown them in vodka. They're going to float, so you can't submerge them completely. But make sure the tops -- leafy or bare -- are at least partially in the vodka. Cover the bowl and put it in the fridge.
4. Wait 24 hours. This is the hardest step. I know you want to take them out and eat them all. Believe me, I've been there. The berries will taunt you from the fridge. "OOOH, I'M SO FULL OF VODKA!" they'll say loudly, pretending they don't know you're there. "I SURE COULD USE A NICE HOT BATH IN SOME CHOCOLATE!" they'll shriek temptingly. But you must resist them. YOU MUST. In reality, I'm sure 20 or even 18 hours would do alright. But for the best vodka soaked strawberry possible, wait the full 24 hours. I wouldn't soak them longer than that, though. You run the risk of the strawberries breaking down, and then they're not very good anymore.
5. Remove them from the vodka and give them a quick rub with a paper towel. Set them on a plate or sheet pan, making sure the tops are facing up. If you put them top down, you're going to have some unpleasant drainage problems. The vodka has given its last full measure of devotion, and can be tossed with grateful thanks.
6. Put the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and start nuking it in 20 second intervals. After each interval, take the bowl out and stir the chocolate. Yes, stir it even after the first 20 seconds when it doesn't look like anything has happened yet. You want the melted chocolate to be smooth and not too thick. There are two important things to remember when melting chocolate. One -- do not add any liquids. The chocolate will seize up and you'll have to start over. Two -- do not overheat it. That will also cause the chocolate to seize up. When the chocolate starts to get liquidy, switch to 10 second intervals. That should help prevent overheating.
7. Dip the strawberries in the melted chocolate, the messiest and most fun step of them all. If you've cut the tops off your strawberries, please resist the urge to use a fork to dip them and accept that your fingers will get messy. Poking holes in the top will encourage the vodka to flow out of the strawberry, which kind of defeats the purpose of this whole recipe. If the chocolate starts to get too thick, pop it back into the microwave in 10 second intervals until it's looser. Set the strawberries on a sheet pan or plate covered with parchment paper or foil, and then put them in the fridge to set for about 30 minutes
8. This is an optional step. If you want to impress everyone at your party, buy a tube of white decorating icing and pipe little football laces on each of your strawberries.
And that's it! If you've followed those steps, you now have a tasty, alcohol filled treat that is sure to please your party goers.
Best of luck to those of you who are hosting parties, or who are assigned to bring a snack. May your Super Bowl snack journey be exciting, satisfying, and free of vegetables.
BLG Note: Big thanks to the wonderful Liz for this contribution. Make sure you read her work at Phillies SBN site The Good Phight, or else.
Feel free to share your own Super Bowl recipes in the comments below. Remember this one?