Upgrade your homemade confections with this simple technique. 

By Jake Cohen
Dorling Kindersley: William Reav/Getty Images

If you’ve ever bitten into a shiny chocolate from a box of truffles, you’ve experienced the magic of tempering. The term refers to the process of melting and cooling chocolate to create cocoa butter crystallization, responsible for the glossy appearance and perfect snap of fancy confections. If you’re looking to make your own chocolate truffles, chocolate bark or chocolate-dipped candies, you’re going to want to master this technique.

First things first: choose the right type of chocolate. Ignore the words "semisweet" or "bittersweet" on chocolate bar labels and look for the percentage of cocoa. The sweet spot is 60-to-70 percent.

Next, bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer. Place a heat-proof bowl over the saucepan, being sure the bottom of the bowl isn't touching the water. Add two-thirds of the chocolate to the bowl and stir constantly until melted. Remove from heat and slowly add the remaining chocolate, stirring constantly. The solid chocolate will cool the bowl as you stir, but the residual heat will melt the chocolate, resulting in a perfect tempering.

RELATED: 3 Mini Muffin Tin Treats

You can test to see if your chocolate has tempered by sticking a metal spoon in it and placing it on the counter. The spoon should cool the chocolate quickly, leaving a smooth and glossy shell when it hardens. To make bark with your tempered chocolate, use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate onto a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle on toppings, then store in a cool place until it sets.