Learn how to make a chocolate mug cake. The beauty of this easy recipe is that the ingredients are weighed and mixed directly in the mug that you will use to "baked" it in the microwave! So easy!
What this is and why bother
Sometimes, on a Friday night, all you want is chocolate cake. Unfortunately, most of the time, we lack the energy to turn on the oven and get baking, especially at the end of the week. Cue the mug cake.
Mug cakes are exactly what the name suggests: a cake baked in a mug. The beauty of the mug cake is that it serves one person and the ingredients are mixed directly in the mug, and microwaved to bake. So instead of dirtying a bunch of mixing bowls and having to preheat an oven, you could be eating a chocolate cake within 5 minutes!
The ingredients you need
Like any chocolate cake, the ingredients are pretty standard and you probably have them all in your pantry and fridge!
- all-purpose flour to bind all the ingredients together and make this a cake (as opposed to a brownie)
- cocoa powder, I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute cocoa powder, which is a dark Dutch-processed cocoa powder with a deep chocolate flavour
- sugar, granulated sugar or brown sugar will work here, but I find brown sugar adds a little extra flavour, which is important when microwaving foods because they don't have time to caramelize at all
- baking powder is very important here to help the cake rise quickly in the microwave
- salt, preferably Diamond Crystal fine kosher but even table salt will work here because it's just a pinch
- milk, preferably whole milk with 3.25 % fat
- neutral oil, like canola oil, is used instead of butter to make mixing easier. Another option would be to melt the same quantity of butter in the mug first in the microwave before adding the other ingredients
- vanilla is optional so you can make this recipe without it, but I find just a couple drops add a little more depth of flavour to this recipe
- chocolate chips because extra chocolate is a good thing! They should not burn in the time it takes to microwave the mug cake. Use whatever chocolate chips you prefer. Peanut butter chips could be very interesting here!
I like to top mug cakes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce or sprinkles. You don't have to, but it transforms this into a really awesome dessert!
Making a chocolate mug cake without eggs
If you're wondering how to make a mug cake from scratch, rest assured, it is VERY easy. This is a quick and easy recipe for chocolate cake that serves one person and that is ready in under 10 minutes (of which half of that time it has to rest on the counter so that you don't burn your mouth off).
This mug cake has no eggs, which is one of secrets to how to make a mug cake because if the recipe did have eggs, you'd have to fumble with splitting an egg to make your recipe work. Instead, this recipe relies on a chemical leavener, specifically baking powder for its rising power, which is a substitute for eggs.
We aren't using baking soda in this mug cake recipe because the ingredients don't include an acid source to initiate a reaction that will help the cakes rise. In fact, baking soda in this recipe may lead to an off flavour if it has nothing to react with and for this reason, we rely solely on baking powder for the rise.
Let's not forget the other factor in the recipe that helps the cake rise: evaporation! The water (milk ) in this recipe will evaporate, transforming into a gas that will rise up.
Special tools and equipment
Obviously the other important element to this recipe is the microwave oven. Sure, you could bake this recipe in a regular home oven or even a toaster oven, but that would take longer and we want cake fast!
The other important piece is the mug. Choose the right mug: the mug must be microwave safe and it should have a volume of about 250 mL (1 cup), otherwise, there's a risk that the cake batter will spill over as it rises in the microwave.
How to make it
This chocolate cake is very easy. All the ingredients are measured directly into a mug and mixed with a fork. The cake is microwaved instead of baked in the oven, so it cooks really quickly (takes 75 seconds in my microwave). When it's ready to eat, it's still warm, and the chocolate chips are all gooey and melty. This is the perfect solution to a Friday night craving for chocolate cake.
If you don't have a microwave, you have options to bake the mug cake in the oven. You could bake this in a toaster oven (or a conventional oven). Just make sure your mug is oven-safe. Or use a ramekin with a volume of at least 250 mL (1 cup).
How to tell if it's cooked
The only trouble I've had with mug cakes cooked in the microwave is checking if they are done baking/cooking. When you microwave a mug cake, you can watch the progress through the window, but after about 60 seconds, the window of the microwave fogs up from the evaporation and steam generated as the cake cooks. This means, you can't see what's happening or rely on visual cues.
The only thing you can do is pause the microwave to check if your cake is done baking. Then use a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cake, all the way to the bottom, to make sure it comes out clean. Unfortunately, this can lead to the cake on the bottom becoming gummy if it's under-baked because the cake collapses back down. Trial and error with your microwave will help you figure out what is the perfect cook time for your mug cakes. In my microwave, it takes 90 seconds on high power.
Once your mug cake is done cooking in the microwave, I highly suggest topping it with:
- ice cream, either vanilla ice cream or cookie ice cream
- a dollop of whipped cream
- crème anglaise, would make an awesome dessert sauce for this
- chocolate syrup (I used Hershey's chocolate syrup for the photos) or a warm homemade chocolate fudge sauce like the one in this banana split cake would be great. Chocolate ganache would also be awesome!
- sprinkles are always a good option too!
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can! If you don't have a microwave, find a very small cake pan or use a large oven-safe ramekin that is at least 250 mL or 1 cup. Some mugs will go in the oven, like enamelware mugs and ceramic mugs, but you'll have to check with the manufacturer.
Bake the mug cake in a preheated oven set to 325ºF or even 350 ºF. It will take under 20 minutes. You can use a conventional oven or a toaster oven. Remember to check if the cake is done baking before taking it out! Use a cake tester or an instant read thermometer.
Vanilla is optional in this chocolate mug cake recipe. It's just a flavour enhancer here and in most chocolate cakes, you can get away without it. Substitutions include a few drops of rum or bourbon, which would be a good option. Otherwise just skip it. If you want to flavour the chocolate cake in other ways, try a sprinkling of cinnamon or you could even try a little espresso powder. These two can be mixed with the other dry ingredients.
Chocolate cake in a mug
- 26 grams (3 tablespoon) all-purpose flour
- 10 grams (4 teaspoon) Cacao Barry extra brute cocoa powder
- 30 grams (2 tablespoon) light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon (¼ teaspoon) baking powder
- 1 pinch (1 ) Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt
- 46 grams (3 tablespoon) whole milk (3.25 % fat)
- 14 grams (1 tablespoon) canola oil
- 2 drops (2 drops) pure vanilla extract
- 10 (10 ) dark chocolate chips
- 1 scoop (¼ cup) Vanilla bean ice cream
- 15 mL (1 tablespoon) chocolate syrup
- In a microwavable mug (make sure that it has a 1-cup capacity, ~250 mL), stir together with a fork the flour, cocoa, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.
- Measure the milk, oil and vanilla into the mug, and stir again until there are virtually no more lumps (be sure to scrape the bottom edges to make sure there are no flour pockets).
- Top with chocolate chips.
- Place the mug in the microwave, and cook on high for 90 seconds. The cake will puff up as it cooks. You can use a cake tester to double check if your mug cake is baked in the middle.
- Carefully take the mug out of the microwave (it’s hot!) and let the cake sit for 5 minutes before diving in with spoon.