If You Love Chocolate Cake, Wait Until You See This Easy Recipe (2024)

Let's be honest. Who doesn't love a warm, gooey chocolate cake? I certainly do, and there may be no better excuse to indulge than on National Chocolate Cake Day. If you're looking for a sweet, simple dessert that tastes way better than that box of cookies you keep in the back of your pantry, say no more. Let me introduce you to the five-minute mug cake.

This story is part of Try This, CNET's collection of simple tips to improve your life, fast.

There are three main reasons to love the humble mug cake. First, it takes five minutes. Second, you prepare, bake and eat it in a coffee cup, so you can make a quick, single-serve cake when you don't want to wash a ton of dirty dishes. Third, mug cakes are an ingenious shortcut for people without an oven to cook tasty baked goods at home, since all you need is a microwave.

I only recently graduated to an apartment with a conventional oven. Before that, I lived in a tiny college dorm and then a New York apartment, both sans ovens. Before I caved in and bought a toaster oven, I was able to turn out good chocolate and peanut butter mug cakes in my microwave.

Whether you're looking for a hassle-free dessert or an oven-less cake recipe, here's how to make a chocolate cake in a coffee cup that'll satisfy your cravings. I've also included a few ways to modify this recipe, if you have dairy- or egg-related dietary restrictions. You can also easily make mug cakes gluten-free by using gluten-free flour blends you buy or make from scratch.

Chocolate mug cake recipe

During my tenure making mug cakes, I experimented with recipes from the Food Network, New York Times, Allrecipes and Tasty to uncover the simplest way to make a delicious chocolate mug cake -- one that requires minimal time and skill to prepare, and with ingredients you likely have on hand.

A lot of recipes look fairly similar to the one below, with the main ingredients being flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, milk, oil and an egg. Some recipes, however, called for less common ingredients that you may not have in your pantry, like chocolate hazelnut spread. Others even called for butter (instead of vegetable oil), which required a separate cup to melt in and some skill to avoid scrambling your egg when it's hot. I tried to keep this one simple by sticking to pantry basics and oil, which is easier to incorporate and helps keep this quick-cook cake moist.

For a basic chocolate mug cake recipe, all you'll need are these staples:

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar (depending on how sweet you want your cake to be)
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • A few drops vanilla extract
  • Chocolate chips to taste (optional, but if you have them, I recommend)

1. Add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt to a standard-size (12-ounce) microwave-safe mug. Note that if you are using a smaller cup, your cake may rise and spill over the rim. Mix thoroughly with a fork until ingredients are well combined.

2. To the same mug, add the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and an egg. Whisk all the ingredients together with a fork until the mixture is hom*ogeneous and free of lumps. Stir in chocolate chips, if desired.

3. Microwave your mug cake uncovered for 90 seconds. Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes before eating -- trust me, it gets hot!

4. Top the mug cake with more chocolate chips as desired, powdered sugar or ice cream, and enjoy.

If You Love Chocolate Cake, Wait Until You See This Easy Recipe (2)

How to make your mug cake dairy- and egg-free

Whether you choose to omit dairy and eggs from your diet or have allergies, you can easily hack a mug cake recipe to exclude milk or eggs.

For the recipe above, simply replace the egg with an extra tablespoon of oil. It's important to note, however, that this does affect the texture of the cake, and it will not rise as much while cooking. To make the recipe dairy-free, simply use a milk alternative such as almond milk, oat milk or soy milk. The results are just as good.

If You Love Chocolate Cake, Wait Until You See This Easy Recipe (3)

How does a microwave cook a cake?

The microwave's history can be traced back to 1955, when the appliance was first introduced for home kitchens, but the mug cake's lineage is less clear. One of the earlier references to a microwavable dessert cooked in a coffee cup surfaced in a 2009 YouTube video titled "The most dangerous cake in the world." The woman in the video skeptically tries a recipe from her neighbor, and she concludes that it's "dangerous" because you can have a moist cake ready in less than five minutes any time of day.

Microwaves use super-speedy electromagnetic waves to cook the food item by vibrating the water in the food. This means cooking a cake (and other dishes) can be done much quicker in comparison to ovens, which use gas or electricity to warm up the entire inside of an oven to cook food. A plus for ovens, however, is they can also caramelize and crisp up food, creating a nice crust on baked goods. For baking cakes, this means the color and texture of your dessert will be different when cooked in a microwave instead of baked in an oven.

For more, take a look at the six essential kitchen tools to elevate your cooking, CNET's recommendations for the best microwaves and countertop ovens. Plus, what's the difference between sheet pans, cookie sheets and baking pans?

If You Love Chocolate Cake, Wait Until You See This Easy Recipe (2024)


Why do you love chocolate cake? ›

Whenever we feel down or are not in a good mood, we turn to the chocolate cake as our comfort food. The main ingredient of the chocolate in this Cake is cocoa, which helps our brain release endorphins or the "feel good" chemical. It is why our moods lighten whenever we eat this Cake, and we feel a lot better.

Can I make a cake 3 days in advance? ›

Un-iced: If you don't need to ice your cake until the day, you can bake your cake at least 2-3 days ahead of time. But you will need to store it carefully. Ensure that you wrap the cake and have it stored in an airtight container so it doesn't lose moisture.

Is it better to bake a cake the day before? ›

Instead, keep your cakes at room temperature. (Though if you're stacking layers, chill them briefly before assembling the final cake — it'll make things easier.) Stay away for one to three days: Flavors will deepen after one day, and only strengthen the longer you wait.

Can I bake a cake on Wednesday for Saturday? ›

Baking cakes

Cakes can be baked up to two days in advance, stored tightly wrapped with plastic wrap in the fridge or at room temperature.

Is it OK to eat chocolate cake every day? ›

The 80/20 rule suggests that indulging in treats like chocolate cake 20% of the time is okay, but it's important to practice moderation and balance. Eating chocolate cake can promote good mental health by providing a boost of feel-good chemicals like serotonin and endorphins and reducing stress and anxiety.

Why am I craving chocolate cake so much? ›

It's common for hormonal changes to bring about chocolate cravings. “Hormonal changes that can be due to stress, menstrual period or pregnancy can be reasons people may crave chocolate, but it's more likely wanting a delicious food high in sugar and fat,” Haar says.

Can I leave a cake in the fridge overnight? ›

When storing a cake overnight, you need to cover your cake fully to prevent any air and store it at the right temperature. To do this, you can easily wrap your cake in foil or plastic wrap, and place it in an airtight container. Make sure to keep your cake in the refrigerator overnight.

How far in advance can I bake a chocolate cake? ›

The cake can be made and iced a day ahead and stored in an airtight container. The sponge layers can also be frozen, wrapped individually in a double layer of food wrap and a layer of foil, for up to 3 months.

Do bakers use box cake mix? ›

As a professional baker, I don't often use boxed mixes, but I appreciate how easily they bring a cake together. I think premade mixes are great for beginners gaining confidence around the kitchen and also for last-minute cake "emergencies."

Does chocolate cake taste better the next day? ›

Much like the sauces and stews that taste better on day two, an overnight rest can allow a cake to relax, giving ingredients time to mingle and tightly baked crumbs a chance to unwind.

Should I put cake in fridge after icing? ›

After it's been iced:

Well once you've completely iced the cake, it can actually be chilled or stored in the refrigerator, or just at room temperature if you like as long as there isn't anything perishable on the cake.

How early is too early to bake a cake? ›

4 Day Cake Rule. When you are talking about slightly larger cakes, tiered cakes or fondant decorated cakes, then the 4 Day Cake Rule Applies. A cake for a wedding is never (ever) baked off the day before.

Can I bake a cake one day and frost it the next? ›

If it's in the fridge, frost within 1–2 days, but you can freeze cake for up to a month before frosting. I always prefer to make frosting fresh, but the frosting can also be frozen or refrigerated separately before decorating. I used to decorate cakes. I would make the cake layers the day before and freeze them.

What is interesting about chocolate cake? ›

Here are a few fun facts:
  • The first chocolate cake recipe was published in 1847 by Eliza Leslie (you can find it here)
  • Before this, chocolate was only consumed as a beverage.
  • The first boxed cake mix was released in the 1920s.
  • Dr. James Baker discovered how to make chocolate in 1764 by grinding cocoa beans.

Why is chocolate cake the best flavor? ›

Chocolate cake's deliciousness can be attributed to a combination of factors. The rich and complex flavors of chocolate, the moist and tender texture, the balance of sweetness, the addition of flavor enhancers, and the ability to customize the cake all contribute to its irresistible taste.

Why do people love cake so much? ›

In detail: because, as humans, we evolved to seek for dense and possibly delicious food. Cakes are really dense in sugars and fats, especially the former, not to mention that they are nice to see. So this mixture of sugars appears to be both satisfying and nutritional.

Why do I love cakes so much? ›

The cake is not only a tasty dessert, but it's a wonderful treat that comes in numerous flavors and styles. You always feel better after eating cake, and it can improve your mood instantly. Cake not only brightens your special day with its sweetness but also fills your heart with its deliciousness.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Aron Pacocha

Last Updated:

Views: 5863

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (48 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Aron Pacocha

Birthday: 1999-08-12

Address: 3808 Moen Corner, Gorczanyport, FL 67364-2074

Phone: +393457723392

Job: Retail Consultant

Hobby: Jewelry making, Cooking, Gaming, Reading, Juggling, Cabaret, Origami

Introduction: My name is Aron Pacocha, I am a happy, tasty, innocent, proud, talented, courageous, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.