Tatjana likes frequenting graveyards. I know she often takes her daily strolls through one in London, and you may recall her penchant for watching films in the Hollywood Forever cemetery.

Tatjana Rhodes & Millie Brown at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Tatjana Rhodes & Millie Brown at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

At first I thought, “Oh no! That’s just so morbid”, when Tatjana asked to go to the Westwood Village Memorial Park to visit the final resting place of Marilyn Monroe. Surprisingly, I found it to be an incredibly peaceful, sweet little enclave to be laid to rest in, right in the heart of the city. Less isolated than most …

Westwood Villiage Memorial Park

Westwood Village Memorial Park

… uplifting and pretty enough for your loved ones and fans to want to visit regularly. It also turned out to be quite a lovely Sunday afternoon stroll that I deliberately saved for your Halloween pleasure.

Tatjana paying her respects to Marilyn Monroe

Tatjana paying her respects to Marilyn Monroe

Ms. Monore is in good company with bandleader Buddy Rich, writer Truman Capote, and crooner Dean Martin in the immediate vicinity, and Some Like It Hot pals Jack Lemon and director Billy Wilder are also not far away.

Walter Matthau, Jack Lemon, Farah Faucett, Rodney Dangerfield

Walter Matthau, Jack Lemon, Farah Faucett, Rodney Dangerfield

Emotions have a way of creeping up on you in this graveyard, then disappear almost as quickly. All the famous names of people you never really knew, but that made an impression on your life nonetheless. I was sad when I saw Farrah Faucett’s headstone, I guess because she seemed so young…

The Wilder's

The Wilder’s

… but Mr. Wilder’s headstone made me smile as I read, “I’m a writer but then nobody’s perfect” emblazoned across it. Then I saw his wife Audrey’s bench that read, “I’m right here Billy,” and was genuinely touched by their obvious sense of humor and affection – a kind of brief glimpse inside their marriage.

Peggy Lee

Peggy Lee

The next thing I knew, I was admiring the fountains, then transported back to my early youth with a mighty rendition of Fever playing through my mind as I saw Peggy Lee‘s name.

Eric Douglas - bumping into an old friend

Eric Douglas – bumping into an old friend

It appears not all of the graveyard inhabitants were strangers. Nick and I used to hang out with Eric Douglas in Paris back in the early nineties, so I seized an unexpected opportunity to pay my respects to an old friend. It was certainly an out of the ordinary afternoon, one in which I worked up an appetite, and what could be more apropos than this cake? Happy Halloween everyone!

Graveyard cake

Chocolate Graveyard Cake

Serve with ice cream of your choice (I like coffee ice cream with mine, but almost all flavors of ice cream go well with chocolate fudge cake).

Servings: 12
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate (preferably Valrohna)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon coffee extract or espresso
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup boiling water

For the Chocolate Fudge Icing

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons Valrohna cocoa
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon coffee extract or espresso
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For Decorating

  • 6 rectangular shortbread cookies
  • tubes of cake decorating icing in colors of your choice

Directions

For the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan.
  2. Melt chocolate in a double boiler.
  3. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. Beat butter and brown sugar together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until light and fluffy.
  5. Add melted chocolate, coffee extract, and vanilla and beat until combined.
  6. Add 1/3 of flour mixture alternating with 1/3 of sour cream at a time, beating after each addition until all incorporated. Stir boiling water in to thin the batter.
  7. Pour into pan, and bake in the 350° F oven for 35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center. Cool for at least 10 minutes before loosening sides with a knife, and inverting onto the serving platter. Let cake cool completely before icing.

For the Chocolate Fudge Icing

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar and cocoa. Bring to boil, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Add milk and remove from heat. Stir well. Stir in sifted powdered sugar, stir well. Add vanilla, coffee extract, and sea salt, stir well. Pour over cake, using a knife to spread evenly and cover completely. Cool completely before decorating.

For the Decorating

  1. Decorate each cookie with RIP as I have done in the photograph. Push the bottom edge of each cookie into the cake at regular intervals to look like a graveyard.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with ice cream of your choice (I like coffee ice cream with mine, but almost all flavors of ice cream go well with chocolate fudge cake).

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