Bing Cherry Biscotti with Kirsch

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It’s official. Spring is here.

This past weekend we spent the day in DC. We edged our way closer and closer to the curb so the kids could see the cherry blossom parade and we braved the masses at the tidal basin to get an up close view of the cherry blossoms. The cherry blossoms always remind us of our time in Japan, specifically a train ride to Hirosaki Castle where we picnicked and sipped sake on grass carpeted with pink fallen cherry blossom petals.

While in the city, we decided to see some sites too.

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Our daughter was adamant about seeing the Lincoln Memorial. As we walked passed the Washington Monument and made our way alongside the reflecting pool, we handed each of our kids a penny. They were amazed to find out that the image on the penny was the exact same one they were looking at in the distance. We counted the steps to the top, felt how cool the bricks were, and talked about how the hands of Lincoln are the letters “A” and “L” in sign language (which park services deny is intentional in the design). As we all gazed up at his statue, our son looks at us and asks, “Was that how big he was when he died?” We explained that you do stop growing at some point.

On our way to the tidal basin we passed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, with the inscribed wall looming behind statues of soldiers dressed for field combat. As we were explaining the purpose of the memorial to the kids, our son abruptly stops and asks in a very loud and anxious voice, “Was I ever in a war?” We assured him he was not.

As we passed through the entrance to the tidal basin, we looked up to see the face of Martin Luther King Jr. carved in granite. We’ve discussed Martin Luther King Jr. before and his story was shared with the students in our daughter’s kindergarten. Our son was standing a few feet away when he recognized the face and yelled over to me, “Is that the king that was shot?” We took a minute to refresh his memory privately.

Overall, the relaxing picnics we once experienced have been replaced with little feet that don’t stay in one place for too long, chants for ice cream, whines about tired legs, and questions peppered by urgency. So we walked a lot, ate ice cream, carried the little man on our backs, answered as many questions as we could before promising to look up more on the computer when we got home, and had a fabulous day!

With the cherry blossoms fresh in our memory, we created these Bing Cherry Biscotti with Kirsch, perfect for a picnic on a bed of cherry blossom petals.

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Bing Cherry Biscotti with Kirsch

YIELD: approximately two dozen

1 cup chopped dried dark bing cherries

½ cup Kirsch or Cherry Brandy, plus more for topping

1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for topping

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup finely ground cornmeal

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 heaping cup of whole almonds

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  Place the cherries in a small bowl with the Kirsch and sugar. Set aside.

3.  In a large flat bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

4.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, and vanilla extract.

5.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

6.  Add the almonds. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

7.  Separate the dough in half.  Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

8.  Drizzle the top of each log with Kirsch and sprinkle with sugar.

9.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

10.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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What to do with the ends #73: Use the ends to prod the masses on your next trip to see the cherry blossoms.

Cherry Chocolate Biscotti

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We don’t know if it is a personal problem or not. We’ve talked to other parents who expressed a similar sentiment when we asked, so we don’t feel like the exception. Yet, we find ourselves repeating the same phrase over and over again everyday. “Please stop yelling.” Actually, most of the time the “please” is missing from that sentence. Our son has no “inside voice.”

We’ve read that kids equate loudness with getting heard and apparently you can “give your kid an inside voice” by speaking “calmly, quietly, with a soft demeanor.” What? Had we known that, we would have gifted him one a long time ago. And if we spoke calmly and quietly, I am quite sure he would never hear us!

Most everything that comes out of his mouth is decibels higher than it needs to be. While a whisper comes in at 15 decibels and a normal conversation occurs at 60 decibels, we are quite sure if we could measure his voice it would be well above that…almost anytime. At dinner, with the four of us sitting no more than an arm lengths away, I am quite sure he would come in around 110 decibels, or the equivalent of a car horn.

We’ve just decided he’s passionate or easily excitable, which describes many Italians and is not necessarily a bad thing.

His heart is just as big as his voice. If we give him crayons, scissors, or some chalk, he turns contemplative, creating a masterpiece he is sure to give to one of us to treasure.

So when I mentioned needing some help with the photographs for the blog, and that it involved chalk, both the kids were happy to oblige. After we finished, they created some wonderful chalk art…on themselves and the chalkboards.

A friend requested these Cherry Chocolate Biscotti and we are glad she did. Cherries and chocolate are a classic combination.

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Cherry Chocolate Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for the topping

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup cocoa powder

3 eggs

1 teaspoon black cherry flavored oil, plus ½ teaspoon for the topping (We used LorAnn Oils Brand.)

¾ cup dried bing cherries

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and black cherry oil.

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the cherries. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough in half.  Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

7. Mix 1 tablespoon sugar and ½ teaspoon black cherry flavored oil with a fork in a small bowl. Press mixture firmly on top of each log.

8.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

9.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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What to do with the ends #59: Crumble the ends on your lawn Christmas Eve for the reindeer to eat.