I've read that tempering chocolate is the only way to get glossy, 'snappable' results. I've also read that it can be a complicated process involving precise temperatures. Is it possible to temper chocolate at home without lots of special equipment?
Absolutely. I do it all the time, with great results.
The easiest way at home is to 'seed' the chocolate. Get it up to the proper temperature as best you can - 115 °F/46 °C for dark, 110 °F/43 °C for others. A thermometer obviously makes this easier. If you don't have one, it will be just melted.
Doing this in the microwave is more difficult than a double boiler because it's difficult to tell when it happens exactly and you overshoot more easily. Stir on a double boiler till the right temperature, take the chocolate off the heat and stir in additional, finely chopped, high quality unmelted chocolate (not chocolate chips).
Now stir it in as the mixture cools, it should all melt and 'seed' the crystals into the chocolate. You'll want to test before you declare victory. At this point, if it's wrong, just reheat, and reapply with more unmelted chocolate. To test, simply dip a spoon in and let it cool in the fridge for a moment. The thin coating on the spoon should be shiny and snapable.
I did it first time purely by chance. Second time was not so successful though. I plan to get an infra red thermometer.
It is fairly daunting, but not too complex to do, but I think it is well worth it to make chocolate Han Solos frozen in Carbonite.
There are enough videos on the web for this, this is one I've used.