In Sweet Secrets, Carine Goren explains that she developed this recipe when she ran out of regular cocoa powder. She improvised with Nesquik chocolate drink mix and loved the results.
The recipe in the book says the yield is one 8″ cake, but I had enough batter for an 8″ square pan plus 6 cupcakes (note that the recipe linked to calls for a large cake pan and not the size pan mentioned in my book;
I think tThe right pan size is 9″x13″ UPDATE: 9×13 pan works perfectly).
The only change I made to the recipe was swapping out the sour cream with coconut milk–which worked deliciously. The cake has a very rich, moist, compact crumb. The cake is light brown and not as intensely chocolate as I usually prefer, but Carine Goren observes that the cake is also less bitter, making it more appealing to kids. (Update: for a more intense chocolate flavor, add a couple of spoons of pure cocoa plus a tsp. of coffee powder)
In any event, the decadent ganache frosting more than compensates in terms of chocolate flavor. I replaced the cream in the frosting with coconut milk, which was a perfect substitute.
Carine Goren suggests warming up leftover slices of cake in the microwave for a few seconds so that the ganache frosting melts into a warm chocolate sauce. I tried this with one piece and it was quite yummy.
Further observations: The cake is almost as rich and moist as a flourless chocolate cake while not having the intense chocolate punch of such cakes. The amount of chocolate-ness is similar to my grandmother’s chocolate applesauce cake (which is MUCH lower in fat). (Update: I made this with boxed coconut milk, Coconut Dream, which has 5 grams of fat per cup, as opposed to canned coconut milk, which has eight times as much fat per cup. The cake still was moist, but not too rich. Soymilk has a similar fat content and would be a good substitute.)
I think this cake would be over the top amazing made with sour cream, melted butter instead of oil, and a layer of cinnamon sugar and chocolate chips (sort of a chocolate version of sour cream coffee cake).
Alternately, if I were going to make the cake again keeping it dairy-free, I might go with half coconut milk and half soy milk, to cut the fat a bit (Update: using soymilk or boxed coconut milk, which has a similar fat content, is an improvement). Or maybe leave things as is, but add some cocoa powder to intensify the chocolate flavor (Update: adding a couple of spoons of cocoa does improve the chocolate oomph to a level I like better).
I also would try making this cake with cocoa and sugar instead of Nesquik. The best substitute for the Nesquik would be Dutch processed cocoa, because that is what is in Nesquik, but regular cocoa would probably work, as well.
I have done the math, based on an examination of the Nesquik container (kosher for Passover Israeli Nesquik), and I think that the cup of cocoa mix called for in the recipe is equal to 6-7 Tbl. of cocoa and 9-10 Tbl. of sugar. (In case you are interested in the details, the cup of cocoa mix weighed 150 g.; each 150g of the mix contains 6.6 g. of protein and 3.3 g. of fat; and 33 g. of cocoa has 6.6 g. of protein and 3.3. g. of fat. Therefore, each cup of cocoa mix has 33 g. of cocoa, which is equal to 6 Tbl. and 2 tsp. cocoa; the remaining 117 g. is sugar, or 9 Tbl. 2 tsp. sugar.)
One more thought: this cake slices neatly and cleanly, without any crumbliness whatsoever, making it ideal for cutting into petit fours or for baking in the Wilton shaped character pans.
Carine Goren’s Nesquik Cake
Adapted from Sweet Secrets
Combine together the following in a large bowl:
8 ounces oil (1 cup)
7.75 ounces, 225 g. sugar (1 cup)
5.25 ounces, 150 g. Nesquik mix (1 cup, or 7 Tbl. cocoa and 9 Tbl. cup sugar)
6 ounces sour cream (3/4 cup) (I used coconut milk, which has the same fat content as sour cream, but something less rich like soy milk might be okay, possibly better if you don’t want an insanely rich cake. UPDATE: soymilk or a boxed coconut milk, with a similar fat content–5 grams of fat per cup–works perfectly.)
optional: 1 tsp. vanilla extract
4.5 ounces, 130 g. flour (1 cup)
1 tsp. baking powder
Optional: a couple of heaping teaspoons of pure cocoa powder plus a tsp. of coffee powderto intensify the chocolate flavor
Bake in a greased or parchment lined pan (9″x13″ or 8″x8″ and 6 cupcakes) at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until the top of the cake is springy to the touch. It might take longer than 40 minutes (or much less time for cupcakes, check at 25 minutes).
Frosting (Update: double this if you bake the cake in a 9×13 pan instead of making cupcakes and a 8×8 cake)
Heat almost to a boil:
4 ounces cream or coconut milk (1/2 cup)
Pour the hot mixture over finely chopped chocolate in a bowl and stir until smooth and creamy:
4 ounces 120 g. chocolate (I went with Callebaut 60/40 bittersweet, but half 60 percent and half 50 percent chocolate works, too)
Pour the warm glaze over the warm cake.
Note: if the glaze seems a bit thin, stir a handful of chocolate chips into the bowl and stir until melted. If the glaze is too cool to melt the chips, place the bowl of glaze over a pot of hot water over a low flame and stir until the chips melt.
Update: For a milk chocolate ganache, use 8 ounces of milk chocolate and 6 ounces of heavy cream.