Chocolate-dipped party treats

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In my opinion, chocolate is in the same class as butter. Lots of things are just better with it.

Watch the segment now

That's why I was very curious about those little containers of dipping chocolate found in most every grocery store's produce department. You've probably seen them. They're cardboard and named Dolci frutta. The price is approximately $2.70 - nicely affordable.

I think most of us automatically think of dipped strawberries when we see the chocolate tubs and it doesn't help that they are almost always placed right next to the berries. But I wanted to explore and try lots of other things to dip. You'll probably think of more but this will give you the tips and tricks and at least a starting block of ideas.

I'd dip up a whole selection of things and serve them for a party on a big platter like I showed on the show. The treats looked fancy without having to bake a thing. Plus, I loved that most of them were bite-sized so I could serve up a lot without investing a lot of money in dessert. Plus, many of the items could easily be packaged up as cute gifts. I found it's really easy to whip up some chocolate covered pretzels that are identical to those found in the expensive candy stores.

So, let's start with the tips and follow it up with some dipping options. Have fun, I got so carried away, I almost dipped lunchmeat - okay, not really, but I literally was digging in my cupboard to find more stuff to dip! Plus, pull out those candy chips and sprinkles to fancy them up with a little sprinkle.

Important! Prep your stuff

You know how all the professional chefs on the show have all their food prepped and ready to go. Well you have to do the same thing here. You really have a small window of time to start dipping before the chocolate begins to reharden - about 5 - 10 minutes so have the items laid out and any toppers like chocolate chips, sprinkles etc. also laid out.

This is important, so as they say, plan your work and work your plan - before you melt any chocolate.

Follow the directions

This is critical. If anyone has NOT had success with these little tubs of chocolate joy, it's probably because they heated it too hot and for too long. If you do, it'll be grainy, chunky and unusable.

The microwave works great to melt it, just be sure to follow the directions. The most important things are:

Use 1/2 power (a 5) as your power setting. Melt in increments of 30 - 40 seconds. Stir after each time increment. Keep stirring after you take it out to smooth out any few remaining chips.

A double boiler works also to melt the chocolate but the microwave method is neater and easier. If you want to extend your work time you can put the chocolate over a pan of hot water - that worked for me. Plus, if it hardens before you finish dipping or have any left over, you can simply use the same method in the microwave to reheat it. It'll keep about a week in the cupboard but do not refrigerate it.

Dip away!

Try these things: Strawberries and lots of kinds of fruit Pretzels Marshmallows Cookies Spoons (for stirring coffee or hot cocoa) Dried Fruit Pound Cake pieces Potato chips Any cookie - go ahead and use store-bought Candy Canes

I know you'll think of more things. But trust me, this really makes an easy, lovely presentation. Very few people will resist chocolate dipped fruit or a chocolate dipped Oreo.

If you want to go even further and try chocolate bowls and leaves, watch the segment. The leaves were really fun and easy - the bowls, well, not so successful. Maybe you'll have a better way for me than by using a balloon. If you find one, let me know. I've got to go clean up my chocolate kitchen.

Live and Learn.