Makes 1½ dozen large strawberries
Chocolate-dipped strawberries are the classic Valentine’s Day treat. You can also dip dried fruits, shortbread, even marshmallows. To get a glossy sheen and crisp snap, the chocolate must be tempered, a technique in which you heat, then cool, chocolate within a narrow temperature range. Good quality chocolate that has been properly handled is already tempered; it can be carefully melted and gently cooled to maintain its integrity. Start with small, even-size pieces cut from a solid ½-pound chocolate block (not chocolate chips, which contain additives that can interfere with the tempering process). You need an accurate thermometer. Test it in a glass of ice water; it should read 32 degrees. Dry before using. Also keep a water bath at about 94 degrees nearby in case the chocolate becomes a few degrees too cool. (Use this technique for milk chocolate by heating initially to 87 degrees, then cooling to 86 to 88 degrees.) Once you begin, don’t take a call or answer a text. Just keep working.