1. Heat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
2. In small saucepan, heat chocolate and the 1/2 cup water until chocolate is melted; cool. In medium bowl, beat egg whites at medium speed until stiff peaks form; set aside. In large bowl, beat sugar and shortening until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add melted chocolate and vanilla; mix well.
3. Add flour, baking soda and salt to chocolate mixture alternating with buttermilk, beating after each addition until smooth. Stir in pecans and coconut. Gently fold in beaten egg whites. Pour batter into greased and floured pans.
4. Bake in preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on wire racks. Remove from pans. Cool completely. Make frosting.
In large bowl, beat butter (or margarine), cream cheese and vanilla until creamy. Add confectioners' sugar; beat until smooth.
6. Place one cake layer on serving plate, spread frosting over layer. Place second layer on top, spread with frosting, then top with final layer of cake. Frost top and sides of cake, then garnish with white chocolate curls, if desired.
Makes 12-16 servings.
Date: October 6, 2004