In anticipation of the upcoming holiday that is National Chocolate Cake Day on Jan. 27 (my favourite of all fake food holidays) and keeping with the spirit of Single Adult Diner, I thought it would be appropriate to try making the microwave chocolate mug cake.
You’ve probably come across the single-serving dessert on recipe blogs and life-hacking sites: a scaled-down chocolate cake that’s cooked in a mug in the microwave. What’s not to like? A cake just big enough for a solo diner, and it takes just a minute or two to nuke. No oven, no stand mixer, no toothpicks to test doneness, a good little after-dinner treat for one.
I tried a few of the existing online recipes, which for the most part are pretty similar since you can only fit so many ingredients in a mug. By the way, I recommend using a 16 oz mug to prevent any batter from spilling over when it rises (I used those oversized cappuccino mugs you see in reruns of Friends).
The biggest variation is that some recipes call for eggs while others don’t.
Eggless recipes yield a puddinglike, ultra fudge-y cake that reminds me of half-cooked brownie batter: tasty but lacks structure. I tried using applesauce as an egg substitute but it didn’t provide quite the desired structure, and yes, you could taste the apple in the cake.
Recipes that use eggs yield a fluffy, spongy mug cake but lack the gooey texture. Why? When whipped with sugar, eggs help trap air in the batter to give the cake its fluffy consistency. The downside is that too much egg in the batter makes the cake too stiff since eggs firm up when heated.
After half a dozen or so tweaks, I find that using half an egg in the mug cake yields the best texture that’s both fluffy and gooey. Since I don’t want to waste half an egg, I doubled the rest of the ingredients to yield enough batter to make two mug cakes (share it with a friend or save it for a second helping later).
While a microwave cake lacks the nice crispy crust you get from baking, it does satisfy chocolate cravings and I can say this is the best version of all the mug cakes I made (for the record, about 10). Spread the finished cake with Nutella or a scoop of ice cream to get an extra dose of silky sugary goodness in lieu of frosting or buttercream. Be sure to add sprinkles!
Microwave Chocolate Mug Cake
6 tbsp (90 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) packed brown sugar
5 tbsp (75 mL) cocoa powder
½ tsp (2 mL) baking soda
6 tbsp (90 mL) milk
¼ cup (60 mL) canola oil
½ tsp (2 mL) vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 tbsp (30 mL) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sprinkles, powdered sugar, more chocolate chips, ice cream, etc. for garnish (optional)
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder and baking soda. Whisk in milk, oil, vanilla and egg until combined and batter has no lumps. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter into two microwave-safe mugs — about ¾ cup (180 mL) batter in each mug. Microwave mugs for 2 minutes on high, or 1 minute if microwaving just one mug.
Garnish with sprinkles, powdered sugar, chocolate chips or ice cream, if using.
Makes 2 servings.
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