Empress Chocolate Cake and Frosting

The Cake
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
1 cup buttermilk
2 each eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cake: In a mixer bowl, sift flour with Ground Chocolate, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Add shortening and 3/4 cup buttermilk. Beat on low speed to combine ingredients. Beat on #4 (low-medium) speed for 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup buttermilk, eggs, vanilla. Beat additional 2 minutes. Line 2 (8 x 1-1/2 inch) round cake pans with waxed paper. Spread batter into pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes. Cool on racks 10-15 minutes; remove from pans.

Empress Frosting
1/3 cup half and half
1/2 cup butter, cut up
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 cups Ghirardelli Ground Chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla

In 2 qt. heavy saucepan, heat half and half with butter and sugar, stirring until blended. Add Ground Chocolate, mixing with wire whip until smooth. Heat on medium low until mixture is thick and shiny and runs off the spoon like syrup and the first bubble appears on the surface (160 degrees F). Do not boil or overcook frosting. Cool 5 minutes, then add vanilla. Place pan of frosting in bowl holding a tray of ice cubes and some water. Beat slowly with a spoon until frosting holds a shape. Makes frosting for an 8 inch layer cake.