Oct 01, 2014
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Instant Fudgy Brownie Cake for One

Instant Fudgy Brownie Cake for One
This is an adaptation—and a huge improvement, in my opinion—of the classic microwave mug cake.

You probably know about microwave mug cake. The Internet has been swooning over it for a while; I think I first read about it in 2007, the year of Dramatic Chipmunk, I Like Turtles, and the Rickroll. It may not be a flashy meme, but it’s paid its Internet dues and earned a reasonable level of respect. Nyan Cat probably has to salute whenever a microwave mug cake goes by.

If you’ve tried any of the popular chocolate mug cake recipes, you know how hard it is to predict which terrible texture you might end up with. One cake is tough and rubbery like an old shoe, and the next might turn out mushy and wet like an old sock, even if you’ve used the same recipe.

I have plenty of real footwear I could eat if I wanted. Even for as little effort as it takes to mix up a mug cake, it’s hardly worth wasting an egg for a bland, burns-your-mouth little hot-handled cup of disappointment.

So I fixed it.

A mug of chocolate cake batter

To begin with, I had a whole list of problems with chocolate mug cake:

  1. Dry/rubbery texture easily made worse by overmixing
  2. Not very chocolatey-tasting
  3. Beating the egg separately means washing two dishes
  4. Kind of a lot of refined sugar for a single serving

So I tested and adapted the recipe, swapping out ingredients and balancing ratios, until I had one that answered all my complaints. The solutions are simple:

  1. Mix all the wet ingredients first and add the flour last, to prevent overmixing
  2. Use melted chocolate rather than cocoa powder to improve chocolate flavor
  3. Add the egg directly to the batter at a pre-flour point when it’s okay to stir to your heart’s content
  4. Replace all that sugar with a little honey and pretend that means it’s healthy

One Instant Fudgy Brownie Cake in a mug

The recipe is just as easy as the old standard. You put some chocolate chips and butter in your empty cup and microwave those until they melt, then mix the other ingredients into that. Be sure to add the cold milk before the egg so that the egg won’t cook in the heated chocolate, and when all your wet things are perfectly blended, stir the flour in juuuust until it’s blended in, and stick it back in the microwave.

It doesn’t rise a lot, and it’s not going to win any beauty pageants—not even Miss Teen USA 2007—but it’s not about being a handsome cake, it’s about being a tasty cake. Whereas we once summed up the original chocolate mug cake as, “Slightly better, in a way, than no chocolate cake at all,” this one is better than a whole list of things:

  1. Store-bought individually-wrapped mini cakes
  2. Things that are not chocolate cake
  3. No cake

It’s a modest list, yes, and although there are other things that could be added (empty jars, String Racers), I’m not going to oversell it, lest you head into this expecting the kind of cake that would make you turn down a proper cake if given the choice. It’s definitely no substitute for the soft, fluffy, even texture you get when you spend half a day measuring things into different bowls and combining them with the appropriate tools and appliances. What a mug cake sacrifices in nuance and texture, it makes up for by letting you prepare just one little serving and eat it in five minutes, even if you aren’t a baker and don’t have a single pan in your kitchen. In fact, I bet even an idiot could make this. Oh, or a child! Either one.

Individual Fudgy Brownie Microwave Cake

Notes, in list form today because I’m list-happy all of a sudden:

  • The texture of the finished cake should be dense and fudgy and, yes, a bit spongey (it’s a microwave thing), somewhere between a cake and a very moist brownie. There may be some chocolate still melty on the outside, which is not a bad thing. But be sure to let it cool lest you scald yourself.
  • The cake can taste strongly of honey if you think about honey while you eat it; if you don’t, you might not notice there’s honey in it at all. According to my research (subject ate the cake whilst looking at the honey bear on the counter; control group did not look at the honey bear), it’s a matter of perception.
  • I like to use semisweet chocolate, but if you prefer another kind, try it! What do you have to lose? It’s one serving!
  • Being generous with the salt emphasizes the chocolate flavor, so if you’re open to salted chocolate, now’s the time.

One Little Fudgy Brownie Cake in a Mug

  • 3 heaping Tablespoons (1.5oz) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons honey
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon (a.k.a. one large dribble) vanilla
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • Generous pinch of salt
  1. Place chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe mug and microwave on low power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until chocolate is smooth and melted.
  2. Add honey.
  3. Add milk and stir vigorously until combined. (Since the milk is cooler than the chocolate, you have to really convince them to blend, or the chocolate will try to seize and float around in the milk. But you can do it! It’s easy, just stir really fast.)
  4. Add egg and beat vigorously until combined, just like you did with the milk. Extra beating here, with a fork for instance, may help you get a fluffier texture.
  5. Stir in vanilla and salt.
  6. This is important: Add flour and stir until just combined and then stop stirring. But be sure your flour is in fact fully mixed in, or according to one reader, your cake may explode in the microwave. Simply stir it until the moment it is combined—no runny batter with chunks of dry flour floating in it—and then stir no longer. I know it sounds like brain surgery when I emphasize every part of it like this, but when you go to do it, you’ll see it’s not difficult.
  7. Microwave on medium power (about 500 watts) for three minutes. Allow to cool slightly—but only slightly—before enjoying.
4T flour

About Kristina

Kristina Ackerman is a busy freelance web designer, living and DIYing with her fella and their little fella in a cute old house in Atlanta, GA, USA.
  • http://carlyskoreanadventures.blogspot.com/ Carly

    I definitely was bamboozled by a bad mug cake recipe once before. Glad to see an alternative recipe, this one looks delicious!

    • Anonymous

      I hope it’s as big an improvement for you as it is for me. I made it three times and it was totally consistent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000144221844 Aaron Dallas

    Nice measuring spoons!

    • Anonymous

      Yes! Thank you VERY much!

  • Daisyscience

    I just made it and its so divine, nom nom nom. Thanks for the great recipe!!! :D

    • Anonymous

      Hooray, that’s fantastic news! Thank you for the report!

  • Javed Vardi

    This is a another way on how to prepare your browni , another way to present your browni to your Family and friends, and how yummy it is, especially the peppermint.

  • kpd23

    made it, and i still cant find a cake mug recipe that’s fluffy.  this recipe is personally like all the other failed cake mug recipes. Thankfully you don’t waste too much since each attempted recipe takes only one mug.

    • Anonymous

      That’s totally fair: if you’re looking for fluffy, a microwave mug cake just isn’t going to do the job, because the fluffiness of cake comes from the air that’s incorporated by beating. No beating, no fluff, I’m afraid. What makes this one different is that the texture is dense and moist like fudge, rather than dry and rubbery.

    • http://profiles.google.com/ameliaheartsu Amelia Logan

      you could always try whipping the egg really good before you add it. I’ve had some unintentionally fluffy cakes that grew over the cup.

  • http://twitter.com/Keira_Rose Keira

    Thanks for the suggestions! I have the problem of being an excellent and creative cook, but at best an almost mediocre baker… I did sort of a combo of your recipe and another one I found and it came out VERY good! Used two tbsp butter, 1tsp raw sugar, and a good squeeze of honey, and egg, 3tbsp milk, 3 tbsp of dark chocolate powder AND a small handful of dark chocolate chips (when the flour goes in) splash of vanilla, 3 tbsp flour (at the end of the mixing… which really makes a HUGE difference!) and then I dropped in two salted caramels in the center… NOM!

  • plue cheese

    I must make this now ! Thank you so much ! :)

  • LasermanMcGee

    Fail.

  • http://www.dpsinfo.com LaurieMann

    I love chocolate but if I bake a standard cake or brownies, I wind up eating a lot in a couple of days.  I find a serving a week is usually all I want (or should eat).  Have been buying the little nukable “molten cakes” but the texture just isn’t right.  I’m definitely going to try your fudgy brownie cake for one sometime soon.

  • Blueviolet Beauregarde

    This was not to my taste. Quite rubbery; texture was like memory foam. I’ve never had luck with mug cakes that include egg. I’ve had far, far, far better luck with cakes that just use a a bit of baking powder, but no egg at all. Try it next time. You can also make a bona fide brownie by omitting both egg and BP (haven’t tried it with honey though).

    • http://knucklesalad.com Kristina Ackerman

      My instinct is that the rubbery texture might come from overmixing, but a tested baking powder recipe sounds like it would be a fine alternative.

  • Na

    Honestly, it did stand out like you said. Still tasted like any ol’ mug cake. But still good none the less.

  • Lindsey Domanico

    this was SO freakin’ good! most mug cakes i’ve made have been disappointing, but this was really yummy.

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  • Krisdw10

    Wonderful! I just made this using my Caramel Cream honey. I also added about 1/4 tsp baking soda to fluff it up a tad. The last Mug cake I made was really dry but this was perfect. Love it!

  • Teamdolphins

    Well us two teenagers just made it and it seemed to be lacking flavour and had a sponge type texture. The cake went flat!!

    • http://knucklesalad.com Kristina Ackerman

      That’s really too bad! Texture issues like that tend to result from extra stirring. Unfortunately, flour is pretty delicate, and once it’s wet, you don’t have much stirring-liberty before it begins to become glutinous and tough. Regarding the flavor, I admit I’m surprised—my mug cakes always turn out tasting chocolate, mainly because of the added chocolate chips, and I can’t think of a reason that wouldn’t be the case. At any rate, I’m sorry to hear it!

  • Kstoski

    I’ve made this 3 or 4 times now, and I love it. Thanks!!!!!

  • Becca

    you made me laugh from the belly out! so cute! thank you for “fixing it” since I don’t eat footwear either!

  • Emily

    My mom and I just tried it, and added some Mrs. Richardson’s caramel topping to it.. It was divine!

  • Cynthia

    Delish…way better than any cake in a mug I’ve tried and I didn’t taste the honey (even though I knew it was there!)…definitely worth the extra time and effort. Thanks so much for sharing a recipe that tastes great and is definitely healthier (love that it’s one tablespoon butter instead of three of canola oil). :)

  • claragt

    Just tried this recipe – brilliant! Yum! Thanks!

    I used dark chocolate and not enough honey, so I had to sprinkle it with sugar to sweeten it up a bit. 

    Also it was a bit overcooked because my microwave is a bit more powerful than suggested, even though I only cooked it for 2:30mins. I was hoping for a gooey middle, but maybe next time.

    The cake came out bigger than I expected, so I generously shared it with my housemate. Double win!

  • Ruth Ellis

    Just made a variation on this and it was lovely. Best mug cake yet! Like you say, still doesn’t beat ‘real’ cake, but then doesn’t take 30 mins to cook and involve an electric mixer either!!!! To make it dairy-free I use oil instead of butter, oat milk instead of real milk, and 1 tbsp soya chocolate spread and 1 tsp cocoa powder instead of the chocolate, since I had no dark chocolate in the cupboard. I needed to cook it for an extra 30s, but the result was a fairly passable chocolate brownie – win!!! Thanks for sharing. I’m going to try it a few more times, maybe make some more tweaks, then it might end up on my blog – with credit and recipe link to you of course – hope that’s ok!

  • Angelgirl911e

    well kinda taste like those brownies in kid cuisine meals. lol. i didn’t really like either the honey or this dark chocolate cocoa powder i put in it. cant really figure out which one it is! i was afraid it was going to explode in my microwave so it was only in there for about a minute.. overall, not bad

  • Debbie

    I have made this recipe many many times and it comes out fabulous every time. I love the cake AND the hot fudgy chocolate sauce that comes along with it. I will say that if you forget to set your microwave to 50% it will turn to rubber and make a nice hockey puck. This recipe is my favorite great.

  • http://www.facebook.com/p.j.heil.cimorelli P.j. Heil Cimorelli

    Hi~ well i was skeptical. but after reading all the re-views I tweaked the recipe even more. I used only 3 Tlbs, flour, 1 Tlbs. raw sugar, i still added the honey, added only a pinch of B/soda, pinch of B/powder. I added about 1/2 tsp. of instant coffee to the vanilla, stirred real well, but i also added 1 Tlbs. of coconut. did every thing else the same way. I will def. make this again for that need of chocolate craving I had.

  • Leslie

    I just made this – and I must say, for my first mug cake it was really fascinating! Of course now I read all the comments, and think I shall try some of the ‘tweaks’ on the next ones, as I would like mine to be a little more brownie-like. I did figure out that if you stir after one Tbsp milk, then add the other two Tbsp, the chocolate doesn’t clump. Also I had to do mine for only 2min, but it’s probably just my microwave. I also have a problem with over-stirring/getting it blended at the same time – but I’m willing to practice this. And my mom has volunteered to be guinea-pig. :)

  • smart oven

    I am really glad that this was only one serving’s worth
    of ingredients wasted, but I think I might have to get a new microwave.
    Guess it is on to the next blogger that says their cake in a
    mug recipe is the end all.
    Breville Smart Oven

  • cassie

    Omg i just made this, except insted of honey i added 3 tbl sugar and baked it in the oven made 5 regular cupcakes and it tasted amazing. So moist and flavorful and easy!! Thank you so much

  • nobodycares

    This was so much better than the ones I have tried before. The only thing I have trouble with is the microwave part, the sides and bottom gets cooked but the top and middle stays like batter. It’s okay anyway though, it tastes really good :)

  • Sara

    Hey, I microwaved in 30 second increments, and after 1 minute 30 seconds the cake was fully done ( in fact in my microwave 1 minute was good enough). The cake is quick, simple, and delicious. I dressed it up with some whipped cream, strawberries, blueberries and added chopped walnuts. Its kind of dense, almost like a brownie.
    Overall, thanks for the recipe, Hubby loved it. Plate clean!

  • Jordan HAWES

    I was actually quite disappointed with this recipe, maybe I did something wrong but the finishing product was very RUBBERY

  • Kadasia W

    I followed all of the directions but my cakes had some chunks that I took out but it cooked in under a minute and I got the “rubbery cake.” But making it was fun haha…thanks for the recipe but I have no idea what happened :(

    {{{Kadasia}}}