By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Feb 11, 2016 at 11:01 AM

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. And whether you’re spending it with friends, family or even that special someone, the day is a great excuse to indulge in something rich and chocolatey.

And, while you can always pick up a box of chocolate confections from an area chocolate shop (or order one online), sometimes making an indulgent recipe from scratch is the best way to share your love.

But, how do you ensure that your chocolate masterpiece is, well, actually a masterpiece?

We consulted with Anette Righi DeFendi, head chocolatier at Kohler Original Recipe Chocolates and one of Dessert Professional's picks for the Top 10 Chocolatiers in North America for 2015.

And here's five of her top tips for working (and baking) with chocolate:

1. Stop the pooling

To create a cleaner finish when dipping food into melted chocolate be sure to use a dipping fork. This specially designed simplistic tool allows for the removal of excess chocolate which prevents the forming of a pool of chocolate under the item known as a foot.  This method makes the most of your chocolate creating less waste.

2. Go metric

To insure consistency and accuracy, use the metric system that measures weight (milliliters, grams, etc.) instead of the American Standard system that measures volume (cups, teaspoons, tablespoons, etc.). Conversion charts are readily available online, better yet print one out and post it inside a cupboard door for easy reference. Recipes will always turn out exactly the same. There are simply too many variables with cups/teaspoons.

3. Don’t be afraid of failure

Intrigued by a new recipe? Try it. Even if you fail, you are sure to learn something to do or not to do next time! It is often equally as important to know what not to do as it is to know what to do!

4. Stop struggling with sticky ingredients

This is my favorite tip. When measuring sticky ingredients such as honey or corn syrup, it is best to spray the measuring tool with cooking spray prior to adding the ingredient. This allows the ingredient to slide out easily resulting in proper proportions and minimizing waste!

5. Don't be afraid to experiment

Take a favorite recipe and modify it. Make slight modifications to the type of chocolate, add a flavor or incorporate inclusions such as nuts or chocolate chips.

Want more tips?

For the very first time Righi DeFendi will host a hands-on chocolate making session during the upcoming In Celebration of Chocolate event, which takes place in Kohler from Feb. 19 to 21. Her session, held at the Craverie Chocolate Cafe in The Shops at Woodlake on Feb. 19 from 5:30 to 8 p.m., will walk participants through a hands-on seminar where they will create their very own chocolate.

In addition to Righi DeFendi's session, there will be cocoa-inspired dinners, culinary and educational demonstrations, chocolate tastings featuring both traditional and non-traditional pairings and a workshop with Josh Johnson, executive pastry chef at The American Club, who will demonstrate how to easily create a fantastic (and edible) chocolate sculpture at home.

Check out the complete schedule for In Celebration of Chocolate online.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.