You’d think by now I would’ve developed a little more “cool,” if not downright mystery about my birthdays, but I still get as excited about them as a three -year-old would. My parents are driving in from Palm Springs today to spoil me all weekend, so this birthday will have a a “back to where it all started” vibe along with a few art shows, and dinner at my favorite restaurant.

In the beginning...

In the beginning…

I come from a long line of people who milk birthdays for all they’re worth – here’s my Grandma Ellie introducing me to chocolate cake (my first love until red velvet came along a few years later), and you only have to click here to see how dad made his 80th birthday last for six months (and TWO family trips).

Grandma Ellie and getting into chocolate cake

Grandma Ellie and getting into chocolate cake

So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to reminisce about some of my own favorite birthday memories. Of course I had the obligatory clowns and pony rides that were all the rage back in the day, but my parents also transformed our living room into a home theater one year (long before they were in vogue)  with all my favorite cartoons.

My 5th birthday in Des Moines

My 5th birthday in Des Moines

Another year they hired a coach (and the store) to take my entire class to Baskin Robbins where we ate as much ice cream and ice cream cake as our little hearts desired. When I met Nick, the birthday baton was passed onto him, and I have to say – he did NOT disappoint – year after year he outdid himself.

He did throw good birthday parties!

Nick did know how to throw a great birthday party

Each one was spectacular in it’s own way, even the quiet ones like the romantic dinner at Cafe Royal for my 24th, or the dinner with Simon and Yasmin LeBon, David Bowie and Coco Schwab at the Ivy in LA for my 28th. The one that stands out most has to be the party he threw (with the help of Andy Warhol’s address book) for my 25th at Limelight in New York. Janice Dickenson let me raid her closet for the event. I chose a stunning midnight blue leather Versace ensemble that accentuated the sapphire ring and earrings that Nick had given me for my birthday perfectly. I then spent the entire evening quite literally speechless as my idol, Carly Simon tried to make conversation with me – it was beyond surreal to have her singing happy birthday to me!

Birthday memories with Keith Haring

My 30th with Keith Haring in Paris …

Nick took over Dave’s restaurant in Paris for my 30th birthday in Paris, and filled it with dear friends (it helps that my birthday falls close, if not bang on, fashion week).

Daughter knows best

Daughter knows best

Of course, the absolute best celebrations didn’t begin until Tatjana came along, and she’s still the best at picking out birthday cards and great pressies. A big thank you shout out to her boyfriend Aaron, too – he started this birthday off with a surprise gift last week!

Quite a few killer parties my friend Jeanette organized for me

Quite a few killer parties organized by friends

As soon as Nick and I split, my friends Jeanette Calliva and Steve Strange made sure my birthdays were still duly celebrated. Beginning with  a fabulous party of dinner and dancing at Limelight in London, with many more to follow (I do have the kindest, most thoughtful, FUN friends anyone could ask for).

More recent birthdays serenaded by Jimmy Demers

More recent birthdays

A tradition my fiends in LA have carried on – including the exquisite 50th birthday party Normandie Keith threw for me!

Celebrating the half century with my LA girls

Celebrating the half century with my LA girls

I do feel so very loved, and want to thank all of you for making me feel special year after year. Now, I’d hate to think any of you feel left out of the celebrations, so here’s my Auntie Vera’s chocolate fudge cake recipe to feast on….

They got even better once Tatjana came along

Auntie Vera’s Chocolate Fudge 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. I originally published this cake for Halloween celebrations, so just ignore the decoration note for birthdays.


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


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


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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  • March 7, 2014
    12:26 pm

    Happy Birthday! What beautiful photos 🙂

  • March 7, 2014
    6:09 pm

    Lovely post Jewels. They must all seem like yesterday…..I know mine certainly do!
    My toddler Jack is celebrating his 2nd b’day this weekend, although it was actually on March 2nd.
    I was going to buy a cake however I may just try making it as soon a Mia finishes her ballet session (I am waiting for her at this moment).
    May you have a lovely time with your parents on what seems to be a fabulous weekend.
    Happy Birthday! No doubt you will be spoilt!