How to Make It
Grease three 8" round cakepans; line with wax paper. Grease and flour wax paper and sides of pans. Set aside.
Combine cocoa and boiling water in a small bowl; stir until smooth. Set aside.
Beat shortening at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Combine buttermilk, soda, and salt. Add flour to shortening mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Beat at low speed after each addition until blended. Stir in cocoa mixture and orange extract. Beat 2 additional minutes.
Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cake layers cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans. Peel off wax paper, and let layers cool completely on wire racks.
Spread Cream Filling between layers to within 1/2" of edge. Spread Grand Marnier Frosting on sides and top of cake. Garnish, if desired.
Note: We prefer a Dutch process cocoa such as Droste or Hershey's European-style in the cake layers for the richest flavor (but the recipe will still taste good if you use Hershey's non-alkalized cocoa).
To make orange curl garnish, use a citrus peeler to peel strips of rind from an orange; or peel 1 orange with a knife leaving white pith on fruit. Cut orange rind into long, thin strips. Wrap rind strips thighty around a pencil to create curls. Freeze briefly; then remove orange rind stips from pencil.
Christmas with Southern Living 1997