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Chocolate is easy to love but can be tricky to work with. Chefs study and work with it for years and still do not get it right. Luckily, these recipes bypass some of the more complicated techniques to minimize your frustration and time.

Before you start, there are some basics you should know: Store chocolate in an airtight container at 60 to 70 degrees. (If you store it in a place that’s too warm, the cocoa butter rises to the surface and gives the chocolate a gray haze; too damp, and the chocolate forms gray sugar crystals on the surface.) If, when melting chocolate, it gets lumpy and hardens, add some vegetable oil and stir the chocolate until smooth.

Bittersweet, semisweet, sweet, milk, and white all refer to chocolate’s makeup. The higher the percentage of cocoa mass, the more intense the chocolate flavor and the least amount of added sugar.

Let’s start with a good old standby recipe that anyone can tackle—chocolate truffles, an after-dinner treat that will even impress the mother-in-law. The little white chocolate tarts with candied lemon rinds are super easy and elegant. The layered mousse cake can be made large or as individual servings for dinner parties. The self-saucing puddings are great because the batter can be made in advance then simply baked for 15 minutes.

So gather up all the bowl- and spoon-licking volunteers you can find. It’ll make cleanup that much easier.

Recipes:

Andrew Evans is the chef at Easton’s Thai Ki.

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