Last night I danced. Big surprise, I know. But this time wasn’t just any old dance. Yesterday’s performance was the first time in almost two years of injury that I performed in a real show onstage. No fear of hurting myself, no hesitation, no pain, just joy.
After the months of daily exercises; of sitting and watching my peers in the studio; of making the hour long trip through the hot summer and the icy winter to physical therapy every week, of doing every non-dancing role in the books; of cheering on my friends at the theatre with a smile on my face but a deep hollowness in my chest; of crying to my family and best friends in frustration and fear and anger; of taking every class with pain or anxiety of when the pain would start again; of feeling the daily exhaustion of pretending I was fine when in reality so much more of me than my bone was broken; of sitting alone on the noisy paper of a doctor’s office seat all those times waiting for news I already knew would be bad; of constantly questioning whether I would ever again know the feeling of really dancing; I danced. The second I stepped into the glow of the lights and felt the eyes of the audience, every single one of those things–the things that at some point had each seemed powerful enough to crush my spirit–they vanished.
The role was short, minor in comparison to things I’d performed years ago. I could not have cared less. In fact, it was even more special that way: the happiness that I felt during my three minutes onstage surpassed that of every ballet I’ve participated in. Ever. I guarantee no dancer in that production was more excited than Louisville towns person number four (I mean I was smiling so hard I probably looked a little more like the town crazy person). The weightlessness that came over me while I moved stayed long after my section ended–I watched the remainder of the show from backstage with a joy and gratitude so intense that everything else in the world seemed to disappear. Just me and God and ballet.
I knew a Valentine’s Day dessert would be expected this week. The bitter single lady side of me cringed at the idea of catering to the romantic crowd’s fondness for love-themed food. But last night thoroughly changed my mind. Last night I felt oh so much love–love of dance and love of my Creator and love of my ever-supportive family and friends–and it was well beyond anything a boyfriend could bring me. Like these lava cakes, one press of the spoon was all it took for all of the happiness and warmth and love of this art that had been held inside me to ooze out everywhere.
I’ll be waiting all week for Friday’s show, but I don’t think this high is wearing off any time soon. Whatever losses I face in the future, nothing can steal that moment from me; it’s what I’ll cherish this Valentine’s Day. It’s what I will never again take for granted.
Whatever love you have in your life, celebrate it this week with these lava cakes. The characteristic sweetness of maraschino cherries is balanced with the delicious tang of balsamic, and the experience of breaking into these steamy cakes to release the stream of thick filling just screams holiday. Eat them with friends. Eat them with a significant other. Eat them alone! You’ll absolutely love them.
Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.
Cherry Balsamic Lava Cakes (V)
- 3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (vegan if desired)
- 1/2 cup maraschino cherry juice
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 TBSP ground flax mixed with 1/4 cup water (let thicken in fridge for at least 5 minutes)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 TBSP cocoa powder
- 1 tsp red food coloring (vegan if desired)
- 1/2 cup vegan butter, melted (I used Earth Balance buttery sticks)
- 10-20 maraschino cherries
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease ten cups of a muffin tin well and dust each with cocoa powder.
- Combine balsamic vinegar, almond milk, and vanilla extract in large bowl. Let rest while you move onto dry ingredients.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and cocoa powder.
- Add cherry juice, food coloring, and thickened flax mixture to larger bowl.
- Mix dry ingredient mixture into the wet ingredients in a few increments until all is incorporated.
- Stir in melted butter until smooth.
- Distribute evenly into ten muffin cups, filling almost to the very top of each (unlike filling partially when making cupcakes).
- Gently drop 1-2 maraschino cherries into the top of each cup.
- Bake in preheated oven for 11-12 minutes. The sides of the cakes and the outside edges of the tops will be baked, but the center just around the cherries will remain moist/bubbly.
- Remove the pan from the oven, and run a thin knife around the edges of each cake to ensure none of the sides have stuck to the cups. Allow them to sit in the pan for one minute as you do this.
- Place a plate or tray on the muffin pan, and carefully invert the pan to release the cakes onto the plate or tray. Lift the muffin pan off carefully.
- Enjoy immediately! Waiting will cause the interiors to cook longer and lose their fabulous lava effect 🙂