This is my last week of relative calm before the dance season starts again, and my mind is in about ten thousand various places at the moment. I’m thrilled to be back dancing almost fully again after 10 months of being in and out of recovery and physical therapy, but an ominous fear of reinjury looms in the back of my thoughts. The start of ballet classes is wonderful, but will I be strong enough to keep up with everyone? Will I just embarrass myself right away? Can I handle a full schedule of rehearsals, work, baking, and blogging? What happens when audition season comes??
It’s generally at least once a day that I find myself spiraling down this type of destructive rabbit hole. As rational as I think I am, the temptation of resting in the rut of anxiety is often too strong to overcome. I know you’ve been there before: you understand that worrying is entirely unproductive, but there’s something about it that sucks you in and suddenly dictates the tone of your day.
Next to prayer and emotional meltdowns with my mom on the phone, baking is often what pulls me out of this rabbit hole. The moment I hoist Paul, my Kitchenaid, onto the counter with a baking goal in mind, everything else in my life dissolves. The worries that knot up my chest melt into the stiffened, food-stained pages of my recipe notebook.
Dancing is–and always has been–the most dominant passion in my life: the joy I feel when I’m performing is something unparalleled by any other activity I do. Loving something that intensely, though, can be inevitably demanding. Dance is the largest repository of my daily thoughts, time, and energy. So, as freeing as it can be for me, it really necessitates a different source of physical and mental release. It wasn’t until I was literally unable to dance that I discovered I needed it. Through my time in the kitchen, I’ve realized that dance may be a major part of me, but it does not make up the whole of who I am. I’ve realized that I shouldn’t feel guilty for finding happiness in things that don’t involve pointe shoes.
Thanks to God’s unbelievable work in the difficulties of last year, I start this Fall knowing that I have an outlet to turn to when I need to step away from the pressures of the studio. And, contrary to my formerly misguided mindset, there’s no weakness or shame in doing so. Time spent doing something that warms your heart is never time wasted. Because of its restorative nature, having a form of escape will actually help you advance in whatever you’re passionate about.
This dessert basically screams escape. One bite of fresh strawberries layered between chocolate biscuit drenched in rich, red wine sauce, and nothing else exists in the world. It’s the end of a crazy long week, treat yourself kind of recipe, and I’ll bet anything that you won’t regret your decision if you give it a try. Who doesn’t want to replace their worries with fresh berries, chocolate, and wine?
So, as I leave, I urge you to do three things:
- Find something entirely different from your job/area of study that brings you stress-free joy.
- Do that thing.
- Make these saucy biscuits. 🙂
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Chocolate Biscuits with Strawberry Red Wine Reduction
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (plus more for rolling out)
- 1 tsp Baking powder
- 1 TBSP sugar
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- 3 TBSP cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- ¼ cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces
- 1 oz. of chocolate (I use 2.5 squares of the Trader Joe’s pound plus bar)
- ⅓ cup milk
STRAWBERRY RED WINE REDUCTION
- ½ cup pureed strawberries (see instructions)
- 1 cup red wine (I used the cheapest Cabernet Sauvignon I could find!)
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 TBSP butter
- Fresh sliced strawberries, for serving
- Preheat oven to 450°F
- In a microwave safe measuring cup or bowl, combine milk and chocolate. Microwave for 20-30 second intervals, stirring between, until chocolate is melted. Set aside.
- Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar, and cocoa powder in large bowl.
- Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in chilled butter until mixture forms small crumbles. Form a well in the center of the bowl.
- When melted chocolate mixture has cooled to room temperature, pour it into the well in the flour mixture.
- Using your fingers or a fork, gently incorporate the liquid mixture into the crumbles, stopping as soon as a dough that will hold together is formed.
- On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to half-inch thickness. Using a floured cup or mason jar lid, cut out biscuits.
- Place biscuits on ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheets while you prepare sauce.
STRAWBERRY RED WINE SAUCE
- Puree the strawberries until smooth in food processor, blender, or Nutribullet. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a measuring cup.
- Combine red wine, pureed strawberries, and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Turn heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Allow mixture to boil, stirring every few minutes, for about 15 minutes, until it’s reduced from 1 ¾ cups to about ⅔ cup.
- Remove from heat, and whisk in butter.
- Leave sauce cool for a few minutes–it will slightly thicken.
- Serve over biscuits with fresh strawberries layered between.