*To use butter or margarine, decrease milk to 2/3 cup
Melt the chocolate in the water in the top of a double boiler, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 cup sugar; heat and stir for 2 minutes. Cool the mixture to lukewarm. Measure sifted flour, soda, and salt and sift together. Cream shortening and gradually add the remaining 1-1/4 cups of sugar and cream together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Then alternately add the flour mixture and the milk, beating after each addition until smooth. Blend in the vanilla and the chocolate mixture. Pour the batter into two 9-inch layer pans lined on bottoms with paper and bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees F) for 30-35 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Frost with Fluffy Chocolate frosting, Seven-Minute frosting, Marshmallow, Coconut, or Peppermint frosting.