Cooks looking to try their hand at homemade chocolate confections can learn the basics of tempering, dipping and using molds. They can start with easy recipes, such as "Chocolate Nut Patties" or "Chocolate Covered Almonds," which are available at MarthaStewart.com.
Working with chocolate intimidates some home chefs, but the basics are easy enough for a beginner to tackle. For example, Martha Stewart's recipe for "Chocolate Covered Almonds" calls for cooking the almonds in a sugary syrup and then separating them, covering the almonds with melted chocolate and dusting them in cocoa powder.
For certain recipes, cooks must learn how to temper chocolate. Tempering stabilizes the cocoa butter, ensuring a glossy appearance and helping chocolate release from molds. The pastry chef David Lebovitz provides a tutorial on how to temper chocolate on his blog, DavidLebovitz.com. His technique involves melting chocolate, allowing it to cool, then raising the temperature again to between 88 and 91 degrees Fahrenheit. Beginner cooks who want to skip tempering can refrigerate their confections instead, since cold temperatures stabilize the cocoa butter, or choose recipes that don't call for tempering, such as chocolate bark or peanut butter cups.
Most home cooks use premade chocolate bars from a quality manufacturer, but adventurous chefs can also make their own chocolate with cocoa powder, cocoa butter and sugar. Several food blogs provide instructions, including NotQuiteNigella.com and LivingHealthyWithChocolate.com.