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Molten Mug Chocolate Cake: we try to make it

90 seconds at 800 watts
90 seconds at 800 watts

Recently, we’ve seen several references to Molten Mug Chocolate Cake: a little molten cake you make in a coffee mug in the microwave. The original recipe was posted to BBC Good Food, but the author wasn’t named.

Cake, cooked in mug for 3 minutes

The idea is really simple: you just mix a few ingredients in a coffee mug and cook in the microwave for a short time and you have a rich chocolaty dessert to surprise your partner or child. We had to try this. The ingredients are simple and you might well have them in your kitchen already.

  • 4 Tb cake flour
  • 4 Tb sugar
  • 2 Tb powdered cocoa
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tb milk
  • 3 Tb canola oil
  • A drop or two of vanilla
  • Up to 3 Tb chocolate chips (optional)
  • A small dollop of peanut butter (optional)

The whole idea is that this is a one dish (cup) meal, but you might be able to mix the ingredients a little more uniformly if you used a bowl and poured it into the cup. However, we did it the way they suggested.

  1. Mix the flour sugar and cocoa in the cup, stirring with a fork until uniform.
  2. Add the egg, and mix until you have a smooth batter.
  3. Add the milk and oil and stir until again uniform
  4. Drop in a couple drops of vanilla extract
  5. Add the optional chocolate chips and, if you want, drop in a tsp of smooth peanut butter.
  6. Cook in a 1000 watt microwave for 3 minutes.
  7. Let it cool and serve to one or two.

Our trials

We first tried this as specified. The cake slowly climbed up out of the cup during cooking, but didn’t leak. However, when we removed it from the cup and cut into it, it was dry, tough and rubbery.

Consulting our microwave manual, we realized that our Sharp microwave is 1150 watts, so we repeated the recipe, but cooked the cake for 3 minutes at 80% power, or about 900 watts. This was somewhat better, but still pretty dry and rubbery. The only thing that melted were the chocolate chips: they had all sunk to the bottom.

So, for our third try, we reduced the cooking time to 2 minutes as some of the recipe commenters had suggested, but still used 80% power. This one was more acceptable: the cake was moist, but still rubbery.

Finally, in our fourth and last attempt, we reduced the power level to 70%, or about 800 watts, and cooked it for 90 seconds. This was the best of the four attempts. The cake was moist and the chocolate chips melted, but it was a far cry from the sort of lava cake you get in restaurants, or even the frozen food section.

Pictures of all of these trials are shown in the slide show.

We only used about 1 Tb of chocolate chips in our trials, since it was supposed to be optional, but we think that if you used all 3 Tb, that would be the melted chocolate you’d find at the bottom of the cake.

We put a dollop of peanut butter in our first try, but when we discovered that it just vanished into the cake, we didn’t bother adding it to the other trials.

This was an interesting series of experiments, and once you let it cool, your young children might enjoy it if you don’t overcook it. It really isn’t something we’d serve to company, unless all of your company “has the munchies” for some reason.

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