Encasing in chocolate captures the contrasting texture and flavor of a filling -- such as chocolate's best friend, peanut butter. Use baking liners to form a chocolate shell. Swirl or paint the liquefied chocolate up the walls. Once it sets, fill the shell, then top with more melted chocolate to seal the candy.
Tempering chocolate gives a candy bar shine and a snap when you bite into it. Melt about three-quarters of your dark chocolate to 110°F, remove from the heat, then briskly stir in the remaining solid chocolate until the mixture cools to 90°F. (It's easier to temper chocolate when your kitchen is cool and not humid.)
Pectin is the natural thickener that puts the boing! into jellied candy. Cook pectin with sugar at a high temperature to activate its binding ability. Confections made from pectin will set without refrigeration and won't melt at room temperature.
Candy thermometers measure the temperature of boiling sugar on its way to becoming hard candy. Make sure the thermometer isn't touching the bottom of the pot or it won't give you an accurate reading.
Coating with nuts gives semisoft, sticky candies a finished look and a firm, clean outer shell. Roll the candy with your fingers, touching the sticky sides as little as possible. (Try other "dry" coatings, such as toasted coconut, Rice Krispies or rainbow sprinkles.)
Candy molds make dozens of candies at once. Their uniform size means ingredients will cool at the same rate and candies will look identical when you pop them out. Try the handiest candy mold we know: the ice cube tray!
Piping with a pastry bag draws precise shapes with gooey ingredients. Piping is just like using a toothpaste tube, so the same rules apply: Squeeze from the end and keep the tip clean. (Save money and make your own pastry bag. Take a resealable plastic bag and snip off the tip of one corner.)