Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans; line with wax paper, and grease paper.
Combine chocolate and boiling water; stir until chocolate melts. Set aside.
Cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating well at medium speed with an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine flour and salt. Dissolve soda in buttermilk. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture (do not overheat). Stir in chocolate and vanilla.
Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes; remove from pans immediately. Remove wax paper; cool cake layer completely on wire racks.
Spread Buttercream Filling between layers; spread Creamy Frosting on top and sides of cake. Decorate top of cake, using frosting comb, if desired . Press chopped pecans into frosting on sides of cake. Garnish top with pecan halves. Yield: one 3-layer cake.
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
2¼ cups sifted powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons half-and-half
Cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add half and-half, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until filling is spreadable consistency.
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup water
3 egg yolks
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon chocolate extract
Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook over medium heat, without stirring, until mixture reaches soft ball stage (240°). Beat egg yolks at high speed of an electric mixer until thick and lemon colored; continue beating, slowly adding hot syrup in a thin stream. Beat until mixture thickens and cools. Add butter,
3 tablespoons at a time, beating until smooth. Stir in melted chocolate and extract. Chill to spreadable consistency. Yield: 2 cups.