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Champagne and Chocolate Coated Strawberries
from the kitchen of Sharmagne Leland-St. John

1 bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal champagne or Dom Perignon chilled over night.*
14 large fresh strawberries with stems attached
2 cups Godiva chocolate melted
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Wash, dry and refrigerate the strawberries. When strawberries are chilled, the chocolate will harden faster and not drip as much. Chill a serving plate and 4 Champagne flutes in the freezer compartment.

Break the chocolate into pieces and put into the top of a double boiler or a fondue bowl. Add the cream. Heat over low heat until the chocolate is melted but not boiling. Add more heavy cream if needed until the mixture is the consistency of heavy cream. Holding the stems dip the strawberries into the melted chocolate and remove quickly. Place on chilled plate until all strawberries are coated with a layer of chocolate. If you wish you may use white and dark chocolate covering half of the strawberries with the white and the rest with dark chocolate.

Remove the champagne from the refrigerator and place in an ice bucket with ice. Pour a half a glass into each of two of the flutes. When the glass is empty refill to half way. Do not pour chilled champagne into a glass which already has the bubbly in it. It reduced the temperature of the champagne, so you don't get a really chilled glass after the first one. Halfway through the bottle take the other two chilled flutes out of the freezer and use them.

*Legend has it that Cristal, a special cuveť , was created at the request of Tsar Alexander II. The tsar would send a wagon with crystal decanters to the great Champagne house of Louis Roederer II, who would then fill them with the sparkly and send them back. Hence the wine maker would refer to the champagne as "the Cristal." Another version of the story is that the champagne was put into clear bottles without a "punt" or dimple. So there is more champagne in each bottle than other brands of the same size!

If the above mentioned Champagne's are out of your price range or budget, try a Mum's Cordon Rouge. Please don't use a "cheap" champagne. You can still get a good inexpensive champagne at CostCo or Trader Joe's. One sparkling wine which comes to mind and can be found in most markets is Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut, a Spanish sparkling wine. It is an excellent blend of macabeo, xarel-lo, and parellada. This refreshing dry wine comes in a black bottle. And then there's the Carta Nevada Brut or Semi-Dry which comes in a clear bottle. There are 6 flutes in every bottle.

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