You can top these little chocolate cakes with either a light glaze or white frosting.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with paper or foil bake cups. Or, grease and lightly flour one 8x1-1/2-inch or 9x1-1/2-inch round baking pan or one 8x8x2-inch baking pan. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine butter, water and cocoa powder. Bring just to boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add cocoa powder mixture to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed just till combined.
Add egg, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 1 minute. (Batter will be thin.) Fill each prepared muffin cup half full with batter. Or, pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes for cupcakes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Or, bake 25 to 30 minutes for 8- or 9-inch round or square baking pan.
Cool the cupcakes in the muffin pan for 5 minutes. Remove from cups. Cool completely on a wire rack. Or, cool cake in baking pan for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan, if you like. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, prepare the Powdered Sugar Glaze. If desired, Remove papers from cupcakes. Immediately pour the glaze over the cupcakes. Spread the glaze with spatula over surface just enough to cover.
Or, frost or pipe cupcakes with Creamy White Frosting. Makes 12 cupcakes (a 1-layer cake makes 6 to 8 servings).
In a medium mixing bowl beat shortening and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Slowly add 1-1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar, beating well. Add 1 tablespoon milk. Gradually beat in 3/4 cup additional powdered sugar and enough milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to reach a spreading consistency.
In a medium bowl, combine sifted powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to reach spreading consistency. Makes 1-1/2 cups.