You can melt chocolate in a microwave on low or
defrost, but it melts much better in a double boiler, or a glass or metal bowl
over simmering/boiling water. You have to wash the bowl anyway, might
as well do it right. And you can leave it sit over the hot water to
keep the chocolate melted while you do something else (like test the
Don't use margarine, use butter. The difference
in flavor and texture is very noticeable. Besides, this stuff is so
fattening, it might as well be all natural -- then it has at least one
Easiest candy recipe ever -- melt milk, dark or
white chocolate, add chopped/halved pecans, walnuts, almonds. Walnuts
go best with dark, pecans with milk, and almonds with white chocolate. For peppermint bark, use white or dark chocolate, and press crushed candy canes into it.
To make a marble effect, pour dark/milk and white chocolate on a foil
lined cookie sheet, swirl together. Put in fridge or freezer to harden.
When hard, break into pieces. If you don't use nuts, you can get the
same marble effect (but more elegantly) using candy molds.
A candy thermometer is a really good investment.
Spray foil with non-stick spray stuff -- easier
than buttering it. This has nothing to do with calories, it's just easier. But almost as easy is getting a large pastry brush (not the silicone type), melting some butter, and brushing the foil or pan. Just a note - the spray stuff will eventually leave a nasty film on your pans. Fine for foil you throw away though.
You can freeze any of this, but it keeps almost
as long in the fridge.
For Christmas presents, double the recipes and
the size of the pans. It doesn't take any longer (except for the truffles)
and will make gifts for a lot of people.
Get good chocolate for dipping the truffles. You
can use any baking quality chocolate (chocolate chips work), but if
you want different colors/flavors use candy coatings, which are usually
available where they sell cake/candy supplies. Or you can check out
what's available at Wilton,
who makes and sells all kinds of candy/cake supplies. (That's the brand
most of the stores carry.).