Heaven and Hell Cake {through hardships to the stars}

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There’s a phrase in Latin “ad astra per aspera.” It’s a phrase that has stuck with me throughout my life and one that kept me strong the past two and a half years that I spent living in Connecticut. It means through hardships to the stars.

A month ago I quit my job and moved back home to Philadelphia. Something I had yearned to do since my car accident three days after moving to Connecticut.

I struggled for two and a half years to make Connecticut home. After the car accident I was left questioning myself and the decision I had just made to leave my friends, my family, my favorite city and a great job. But I craved a change. I wanted to prove to my family and most importantly to myself that I was capable of being on my own and that I could make a new life for myself.  So I stayed. And the experiences, despite however good or bad they may have been, played an invaluable part in shaping who I am today.

I made a best friend. We were like godsends to each other. It seemed as if we were both struggling to find ourselves and happened to be there for one another at the perfect time. I encouraged her to give the man of her dreams a chance and she became my biggest fan and supporter (and recipe taste-tester).

I experienced a heartbreak and heartache so strong it still lingers. A relationship that moved 1000 miles per hour and was over as quickly as it began. But I was able to learn so much about myself  and what I value most in a relationship, and I know that will lead me to meeting my soul mate.

There were also other experiences that impacted my life and helped me to grow over the last two years. I made two other great girlfriends, one who lives halfway across the country and one who moved to Connecticut for her job, too. I got to travel for work and try some amazing restaurants. I found a love for nature and hiking. I found a love for fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. I realized no amount of money could ever get me to have a roommate again. I found a love for jalapeno tequila and a hatred for tequila sweats.

But the most important part of my experience in Connecticut was that it allowed me to finally find myself, and my passion.

Cooking and baking became my form of emotional expression. When I was left with an abundance of love and emotion to give and no one and nothing to give it to, I poured everything I had into the kitchen.

And here I am, two and a half years later, sitting in my beautiful apartment in Philadelphia writing this blog post. And I wouldn’t be here doing this if it hadn’t been for the experiences I had and the relationships I formed while in Connecticut. Because through all of the struggles, all of the ups and downs and hardships I experienced, I was able to finally find myself and my passion, food.

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So for a long and way overdue blog post, I made a heaven and hell cake to share with you, adapted from Dallas Chef Stephan Pyles. The layers of this cake represent the past two and a half years of my life. Made up of layers of Devil’s Food Cake and Angel Food Cake, a peanut butter mousse and covered in a chocolate ganache, this cake is my art form of  the good and bad, my “ad astra per asperato” that allowed me to overcome these struggles to create an amazing end product of finding my passion.

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