Death by Chocolate

Last year I received some unsolicited marketing advice that I can’t get out of my head.   After learning about my book, my airplane seat mate, leaned over and said, “Lady, you’ve got a hell of a problem ahead,  you need to make death attractive, like a candy bar, it’s not going to be easy”.*

For me, it is fascinating to listen to stories, thoughts, beliefs, and experiences that people have with death, dying, grief, and loss and learn how these experiences impact their lives.  I find most people do want to talk about their “death and dying” experiences and ideas when asked.  But it is paradoxical.  About eight out of ten people also share that they are afraid if they talk about death, it might happen. Often they comment on how it is uncharacteristic of them to be superstitious, but yet they can’t help thinking they might be “jinxing” their lives by talking about death.

Do you think eating this dessert will be tempting fate?

Should I bring samples of Death by Chocolate to my marketing appointments?

Death by Chocolate

Yield: 12 servings



8 oz (225 g) dark semisweet chocolate (40-50% cocoa)
2/3 cup (140 g) butter
1 cup (210 g) sugar
4 eggs
4 heaped tablespoons (1 dl) all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoon baking powder or 1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons sour cream

Ingredients for frosting


2/3 cup (1.6 dl) heavy cream or whipping cream
9 oz (260 g) semisweet chocolate (40-50% cocoa)



  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F (Gas mark 4 or 180 deg C).
  2. Line a circular 10 inch (25 cm) cake tin (3 inches tall) with grease proof or other non-stick paper and grease the tin. (Please note that the cake will rise to 3 inches and collapse somewhat when cooled. If your cake tin is less than 10 inches wide and 3 inches tall we recommend that you use two cake tins.)
  3. Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt it with butter over hot water.
  4. Beat the eggs with sugar, mix with flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and vanilla extract.
  5. Slowly fold in the melted butter and chocolate and the sour cream.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, approximately 40 to 50 minutes (if using 2 cake tins 20-30 minutes may be sufficient).
  7. Cool the cake completely. When it has obtained room temperature place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before removing the cake from the tin (the cake is sticky and difficult to cut when it is warm!) Remove the crusted surface on the top of the cake, and cut in half, horizontally.



  1. Heat 2/3 cup (1.6 dl) of heavy cream or whipping cream in a sauce pan.
  2. Remove from heat, add 9 oz (260 g) of finely chopped dark semisweet chocolate, stir until smooth, and let it cool until in thickens.
  3. Use one 1/3 of the frosting between the two layers, 1/3 on top, and the rest around the cake. Put the cake into the fridge for one hour or more to harden the frosting.
  4. This cake should have room temperature when served.


* About ten minutes later he told me about the death and funeral of his beloved Grandmother.