If you're a baker, you know that adding a little unexpected flavor to your baked goods can take them from 'this is good' to 'oh my GAWD what is in these chocolate chip cookies that make them taste like heaven'? If you want to taste someone else's amazing chocolate, head out to A Chocolate Affair, but if you're making your own, use these tips to take your chocolate recipes to a new level:

1. Chocolate Chip Cookies - I use the standard recipe you can find on the back of any chocolate chip bag, but I add a scant teaspoon of hazelnut extract to the batter. You won't taste the hazelnut on its own, but there will be a richness that vanilla on its own just can't give you.

2. Brownies - This is an oldie but a goodie. Add a tablespoon or two of espresso powder to your brownie batter. I tend to put the espresso into whatever liquid is called for, usually water, so it dissolves completely. Again, you won't say 'hey, these are great coffee brownies', you will just notice a depth to the finished product.

3. Fudge - Save this for next Christmas. Use a teaspoon of orange extract after you melt your chocolate and incorporate the marshmallow fluff. If you put the extract in while melting the ingredients over a flame, you lose a lot of flavor. Once again, you're looking for the background brightness to the recipe that the orange extract will give you, not using so much that you have orange flavored fudge.

4. Chocolate for dipping - If you're going to make chocolate covered strawberries for Valentine's Day, don't use vanilla extract. Instead, after the chocolate is melted, right before you're ready to dip those berries, scrape the seeds from a vanilla pod into the liquid chocolate. The flavor explosion of vanilla will blow your mind and make those strawberries sing.

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