Smith Island Cake -A.K.A. Why I love Maryland

Not many people outside of Maryland have ever had it. In fact, with the exception of people on the Eastern Shore, not many Marylanders have had it. Smith Island Cake (also known, along with crabs, as God’s Gift to Maryland) looks like this:

Smith Island Cake, as pictured in National Geographic

8-15 layers of yellow cake, with fudgey chocolate icing in between. Seriously, this is the richest cake you’ll ever taste. It’s AMAZING!

They actually make it by cooking each layer separately in its own cake pan, like 8-10 round cake pans with a tablespoon or two of batter in them. Named in 2008 as the official dessert of the State of Maryland, It comes from Smith Island (go figure), a remote island in the Chesapeake Bay that is only accessible by boat. The remoteness and inaccessibility of the island have made the place somewhat of a time capsule. Discovered by John Smith in the 1600s, the people of Smith Island still retain a sort of Elizabethan dialect, as well as an accent that separates them from the rest of Maryland.

Surprisingly, right in the middle of Maryland where most Marylanders live (between DC and Baltimore), Smith Island Cake is almost impossible to find. Luckily for the rest of the world, you can order it online at www.smithislandbakingco.com and have it shipped to your door in 2 days or less. I think I know what I want for my birthday…

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Endangered Species Chocolate

This week I decided to try a new brand of chocolate. Well, new to me anyways. I bought a bar of Endangered Species Chocolate, Supreme Dark 72% Cocoa. I was enticed by the cute chimpanzee on the wrapper and the note: “10% of net profits donated to support species, habitat and humanity”  Check out the site:

http://chocolatebar.com/

I mean what’s better than that? Eat some awesome chocolate AND help a monkey while you’re at it? I’m all for it.

I make a point of incorporating dark chocolate into my diet (only a little at a time, of course, because I’m trying to manage my weight as well). I’m no food snob, and enjoyed Hershey’s growing up, but recently in my adult life I started become more interested in chocolate brands.

In my search for awesome chocolate, I found out a little more than most of us want to know. The thing is, chocolate has a dark, disgusting secret. The major chocolate companies of America (read: Hershey’s and Mars) buy cocoa that comes from plantations that use child slave labor.

Do you really want some innocent kid to suffer just so you can have cheap chocolate? Now really, I’ve never been a hippie, and I’m not one of those soapbox, boycotting types. But I’m all in favor of, as much as possible, replacing my “blood chocolate” with better tasting, higher quality chocolate that is also free of slave labor.

I’m glad to read that Hershey’s has been taking steps in the last 10 years to limit their indirect participation in child slave labor chocolate, but if there are a dozen other companies that can go 100% slavery-free, why can’t Hershey’s do it too?