For me, baking has always been a form of therapy. When life gets hard and overwhelming, baking is how I disengage from the stressors around me and re-engage both mentally and physically doing something I enjoy. Also, having something delicious to stuff my face with after the fact doesn’t hurt its therapeutic properties either…
This technique has always served me well. No matter how busy things have gotten, I’ve always managed to find time (even if it’s not very much) to put on my pretty little apron and whip up something sweet. Lately, however, the overwhelm factor has simply been too great.
For those of you that don’t know, my husband was hit by a car while he was crossing the road a month and a half ago. Just like that our lives just kind of… stopped… And from that moment on I’ve been in caregiver mode. The accident was bad… Not life-ending bad, thankfully, but nonetheless bad. After spending a week in the hospital he was released but was in need of 24-7 care for the two weeks thereafter. My Mum moved in with us during that time, and I split my time between working during the day and care giving during the evening and night. I hardly had time to sleep let alone bake or blog.
As anyone who’s ever been a caregiver, you know how hard it is. Not just hard in the sense that it’s a lot of work, but hard because there are a lot of emotions that go along with it. You feel tired, drained both physically and psychologically, but complaining feels like an insult to the other person. You miss being able to take time to do the things you enjoy and then instantly feel selfish for letting that thought even cross your mind. I’d find myself wondering “How can I feel sorry for myself?” as I’d bathe and dress my husband, watching him wince as I’d pat dry the area around the 10 staples in his head or his broken leg with its 10 incisions from piecing back together 4 bones. So, inevitably, you end up neglecting yourself out of a sense of guilt that you should be spending every waking hour taking care of the other person.
After a while, you come to realize it’s not sustainable. If you don’t refill your own cup every once in a while, you’ll have nothing left to give. It’s a hard truth because you spend all of your time watching someone you love in pain with relatively little power to do anything about it. But you gotta take care of you. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.
And so, after a month and a half of care giving, things are finally settling down enough for me to start investing time in myself again. Kim can scoot around on his walker like a pro. He can retrieve the meals I make him from the refrigerator. He can dress, go to the bathroom and roll over in bed all on his own these days. We’ve even been told that walking may be in his near future. So me, I went and got a massage. I’ve started sleeping for 8 hours a night again. And I found just enough time to whip up something sweet and indulgent.
- 10 medjoul dates, pitted
- 2 cups hazelnuts
- 4oz semi sweet chocolate
- ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 package unflavored gelatin powder
- 16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 5 oz sour cream
- 1½ tbsp espresso powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Line an 8" square cake pan with two pieces of wax paper. In a food processor or blender, combine your hazelnuts and medjoul dates. Blend until the nuts are finely chopped and the mixture begins to clump. Spoon into your cake pan and press into the bottom.
- In a small, microwave-safe bowl, combine your heavy whipping cream and chocolate. Microwave using 15-20 intervals until the cream is hot. Gently stir until mixture is smooth. Pour the chocolate over the crust. Shake the cake pan gently from side to side to evenly distribute the chocolate. Refrigerate until chocolate is set.
- In a small saucepan, combine the gelatin powder and whole milk and allow to stand for 2 minutes. Gently heat the milk/gelatin mixture over low heat, stirring until the gelatin is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and sour cream and continue whipping until thoroughly combined. Stir the espresso powder into the warm milk mixture. Add the milk mixture and the vanilla extract to the stand mixer and whip until just combined.
- Spoon the cheesecake over the chilled crust and filling. Return the cheesecake to the refrigerator and allow to set overnight (or at least 4 hours) before serving. Slice and drizzle with dark chocolate and chopped hazelnuts.