Last night I hit a brick wall in my studying. All I wanted was something sweet and chocolatey and sugary to make me feel a bit better about my research paper that is currently in more trouble than a certain governor who thought he could sell a Senate appointment to the highest bidder. I hadn't gone shopping this weekend so we had no treats to speak of in the house. In fact we didn't have much of anything. I was about ready to sacrifice my principles and make a run to 7-11 when I remembered a post I had read a while ago on Food Network Musings that mentioned a microwave chocolate cake.
I ran to the computer, found the recipe and scaled it back to an individual serving. It came together in about 2 minutes and after 1:20 in the microwave I had a mug of chocolate cake. Was it perfect? No- it didn't have the deep chocolate flavor I was looking for. The texture was a bit strange too, it didn't have the tender crumb of a baked cake, more of a spongy, baked pudding consistency but it did in a pinch. I feel like I can conquer the recipe though. Maybe it's the lack of progress in my paper, but I really just wanted to get something right...
A day elapsed since I wrote the previous section and I've had another go at the cake and...VICTORY!!! I decided to make a few modifications that really improved the flavor and texture of the cake. To boost the cocoa flavor, I heated the milk and butter in the microwave then stirred i the cocoa powder and nuked it for another 10 seconds. Since the first cake was sort of spongy I cut the amount of flour in half, which I hoped would give it a finer crumb and more tender texture. Last- I used only about a quarter of an egg, to keep it from getting a firm, baked pudding texture and slightly reduced the sugar, as I like my chocolate less sweet. I took it out of the microwave after only 45 seconds, when the center was clearly set but the sides were still very moist and dug in.
The cake turned out amazingly well. It had a deep chocolate flavor and color and a crumb strikingly similar to a real baked cake. It only takes about 4 minutes to put together though and uses 1 mug and set of measuring spoons (or kitchen scale)-- I don't know what else to say about it, other than that I would actually serve it to guests- it was that good.
Amazingly Fast Chocolate Cake
Serves 1, or 2 if you're feeling generous
I've made this in both a cafe au lait style wide mug with a rounded bottom and a ramekin- both worked perfectly. If you use a regular mug, be sure to mix very well so there's no dry ingredients stuck in the bottom edges.
20g (1 and 1/3 T.) butter
30g (2T) milk
7g (1T) cocoa powder (I used Dutch processed)
30 g (2T plus 1t.) sugar
10g egg, lightly beaten (about 1/4 of the egg)
splash vanilla or other extract
15g (1T) flour
pinch baking powder (less than 1/8t., so little it didn't even register on the scale)
tiny pinch of salt
- Heat butter and milk in mug in microwave until butter is melted. Stir in cocoa powder and microwave on high for 10 seconds.
- Stir sugar, egg and extract into the cocoa mixture than add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir until smooth. If you've got room in the mug you could beat a little air into the batter it too.
- Now it's time to cook the cake. This part will depend a lot on your microwave oven. Mine is nuclear powered and the cake cooked in only 45 seconds but yours might take longer. I suggest starting with 45 and adding more time if needed. The cake is done when the center is set but the sides haven't pulled away from the mug and are still a bit shiny and moist looking. You could turn the cake out onto a plate... or you could just grab a spoon and enjoy right from the mug.