Cake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 9-inch round
cake pans. Add wax paper or parchment cut in circles to fit the pans, and grease
and flour the paper.
Melt together the chocolate and water over low heat in a small saucepan.
Keep the mixture warm.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl, and set the
With a mixer, cream together the sugar and butter.
Add the egg yolks, then
the chocolate and the vanilla extract, beating well after each addition.
Mix in the sifted dry ingredients in batches, alternating with the buttermilk,
and combine well.
Beat the egg whites in another bowl, preferably copper, until stiff peaks
form. Fold the whites gently into the batter by hand. Divide the batter equally
among the prepared pans.
Bake for 30 to 32 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center
comes out clean.
Allow the layers to stand in their pans for about 5 minutes.
Run a knife around their edges, invert them onto cake racks, and remove
them from the pans. Let them cool.
While the layers cool, prepare the frosting.
To assemble the cake, place one layer on a decorative serving plate. Spread
one-third of the frosting over the top of the cake layer.
Repeat with the remaining
layers and frosting. The cake is best the day it's made, but because it's
quite moist, it keeps another day or two tightly covered.
Coconut Pecan Frosting: Combine milk, sugar, butter, egg yolks, vanilla
extract and salt in a large, heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring
constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 12 to 14 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the coconut and pecans. Continue
stirring the frosting until it stiffens enough to spread thickly.