Some days just call for dessert. And while in my youth, I had the patience to whip up a batch of blondies or a cake, these days I want something dead easy that I can savor while reading wild theories about “The Incident.” Enter mug cakes, aka God’s gift to mankind.
A mug cake is exactly that: a cake made in a mug. To maximize ease, they’re usually “baked” in the microwave. Recipes vary widely, but the basic ingredients are flour, baking powder (to help the cake rise) and some sort of binding agent (usually an egg). In the name of research (obvi), I tried a number of different recipes this winter, using eggs, yogurt, milk, honey, maple syrup, flax seeds, Nutella, peanut butter, bananas — you name it, I stuck it in a mug and microwaved it.
First takeaway: most mug cake recipes are far too sweet. I like my desserts on the very lightly sweetened side, so I omitted sugar completely. Secondly, a lot of the recipes called for an egg as the binding agent in the cake. But plenty of cake recipes call for one egg in an entire 9-inch cake, so it didn’t make sense to me to use a whole egg for one little mug. Since I’m not into the whole egg-splitting situation, I decided to try a recipe that omitted eggs completely. (Plus, if overbaked, egg mug cakes can get rubbery, which is gross and also very likely when your microwave is terrible and old. Or maybe that’s just a “me” problem.)
I stumbled onto a microwave mug cake recipe that used a mashed banana as a binder, which makes so much sense. Bananas are often used as a substitute for eggs in baked goods, and add an almost pudding-like body to the mug cake, which, as some who goes bananas (HA.) over fudgy brownies and molten lava cakes, I was really into. Plus, they’re naturally sweet, so I didn’t need to add any extra sugar. You could even say that this mug cake is borderline healthy, at least until you load them up with chocolate chips. I doubled down on the chocolatey-ness, adding an extra tablespoon of cocoa plus chocolate chips because, well, more chocolate = better.
If your pantry is reasonably well-stocked, you should already have all of these ingredients on hand. And given that the instructions are literally mix and microwave, there’s no excuse to not make this microwave mug cake right.friggin.now. Everything in life should be this easy.
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Dark Chocolate Microwave Mug Cake
Adapted from The Smoothie Lover
Depending on how ripe your banana is, you may not need any sweetener (I didn’t, but I really don’t like my desserts to be too sweet). Taste the batter before microwaving it, and add sugar or honey if necessary. Also, if your banana isn’t very ripe, microwave it in your mug for 20 seconds so that it mashes more easily.
– 1 small ripe banana
– 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1 tablespoon flour (you can use a gluten-free flour if you’d like)
– 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/8 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 1 tablespoon peanut butter
– a handful of dark chocolate chips
– powdered sugar to serve (optional)
1) Mash the banana in a large heat-proof mug. Stir in the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract and peanut butter until the batter is smooth. Mix in the chocolate chips.
2) Microwave for 1 minute on high heat. If the top of the cake still hasn’t cooked through the whole way, cook in 20-second intervals until the cake is fully “baked.” (Err on the side of caution: there’s nothing raw here, and it’s very easy to overcook the cake into a dry, crumbly mess. My cake took 1m20s in my terrible old microwave.) If you want to class it up, sprinkle some powdered sugar on top of the cake before digging in.