Easy Chocolate Truffles

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Are you still looking for the perfect gift to share with the neighbors? Your child’s teacher? Or maybe you’re just craving a bit of holiday chocolate decadence. Our chocolate truffle recipe only has a few ingredients and, other than the time for chilling and shaping, they go together quite quickly.  And, like all our recipes, they are easily adaptable to your tastes!

Easy Chocolate Truffles

1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips (you can use mint, dark, milk, whatever you like!)

1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or try rum, hazelnut, orange, etc.)

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

cocoa powder, fine coconut, chopped nuts, sprinkles, etc. for rolling

Pour the chocolate chips in a medium sized glass bowl.  Heat the cream until just simmering in a saucepan over medium heat.  Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and then cover with plastic wrap and let sit and melt for about 10 minutes. Take the plastic off and whisk up the cream and chocolate mixture until smooth (this won’t take very long). Add the extract of choice and the salt and stir.  Pour into a pie pan or 8 inch square cake pan and let cool for about 10 minutes before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating for at least 3 hours (can be overnight too)..

We use a teaspoon to scoop out 1 inch balls of the soft ganache. Roll in cocoa, chopped nuts, sprinkles, etc. shaping into balls.  Place on a parchment or waxed paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until set.  We store these in covered tins in the refrigerator.  They stay slightly soft and are oh, so rich and delicious!

 

Seven Days of Snow

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The flock–all seven out of the run and enjoying a bit of snack.

We thought you might like an update on how things are going here at Raggedy Hen Farm after a full week of snow on the ground and below-freezing temperatures.  Believe it or not, the hens actually acclimated quite quickly.  We raked up their run to remove some of the snow and have been making sure the water stays fresh and unfrozen, but after a day or two of staying close to or in the henhouse, they have been venturing out.  As far as they know, this is just the way life is now.

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Can you guess where the honeybee colony is keeping themselves during the cold snap?

While we are not about to go opening up the beehive box to see how the bees are doing, we feel  reasonably confident that they are alright in there.  We left them with more than a dozen combs of honey and notice that the snow has melted away over the end where we suspect the colony is huddled together keeping themselves (and, it looks like, the area around them) warm.

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Trudy is looking rather fine in her new feathers.

Our Jersey Giant, Gertrude, is nearly finished with her molting.  You might notice from the photo that her comb and wattle are still very pale.  They will redden up when she is all done and ready to start laying again.  Meanwhile, she is looking good and staying warm.

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Alas, Hilda just so happened to start her molt prior to the snow, so she is definitely looking a bit raggedy.

Hilda, on the other hand, (our Buff Orpington) is in the midst of her molt.  Like Trudy, however, she seems to be moving through it rather quickly.  During the cold nights, she has the other hens to keep her warm, but during the day, she is not her typical fat and sassy self.

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There really are carrots growing under this blanket of snow!

There are still edible vegetables in the garden: parsnips, carrots, Brussels sprouts–to name a few.  Of course, they are mostly buried under the frozen snow.  We haven’t done much harvesting while the ground is frozen but when things start to thaw, we’ll be able to gather some tasty carrots again!

And, that is how things are looking here on Cedar Street.  We’re not going to lie–we are a bit tired of the cold and the ice and the snow, and we imagine the other critters are too. Meanwhile, we just adjust and try to enjoy the beauty and magic of the season!

Chocolate-Dipped Huckleberry Biscotti

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With the temperatures well below freezing and our entire corner of the world covered with more than a half-foot of snow, we’ve decided it is high time to start the holiday baking.  Inspired by some frozen locally-harvested (and downright delicious) huckleberries we purchased last week from Mycological Natural Products (where we also purchase local mushrooms), we created a to-die-for Biscotti recipe that looks as festive as they taste!  If you don’t have huckleberries, or can’t get them where you live, feel free to substitute frozen wild or cultivated blueberries…

Chocolate-Dipped Huckleberry Biscotti

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease (we used almond oil) two cookie/baking sheets

3 large eggs

1/4 cup sweet almond oil

1 1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 teaspoon hazelnut extract

1 1/2 cup thawed, frozen huckleberries

3 1/2 cup unbleached, all purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate or chocolate of choice

Mix eggs,oil, sugar, and extracts together and beat until well incorporated.  Fold in huckleberries. Sift or mix flour, baking powder and sea salt together and fold into the wet ingredients.  Mix until incorporated.  Divide dough into two halves and shape into flattened logs. Put each log onto the lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake 20-25 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.

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Remove logs from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes on a rack.  When cool enough, slice into 1-1 1/2 inch slices and arrange these flat on the cookie sheets.  Bake for another 10 minutes and then remove and cool on racks.

Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave (or in the top of a double boiler over boiling water).  Melt at 30 second intervals, stopping to stir and check the consistency.  When melted, dip half biscotti into melted chocolate or use a knife or spoon to coat one end of the cookies.  Allow to dry on racks until chocolate is firm again.

Once these cookies have cooled and the chocolate has hardened, store in an airtight container and enjoy!