On one of those days when silly little things were going wrong -- the bank machine was out of cash, and the office where I need to get my dump sticker was closed at 11 a.m. for no reason at all -- I absolutely, positively needed chocolate to restore my equilibrium. With no stash of candy or brownies in the house, I pulled out a recipe I've been saving for months from Ingredient, a cooking magazine for children. Chocolate cake in a mug (or an old glass measuring cup), made in less than two minutes. Almost like a brownie, the cake, kicked up from the original recipe with grown-up pantry items (walnuts, cinnamon, crystallized ginger, sea salt), delivered nearly instant gratification. The dump sticker could wait.
Chocolate cake in a mug (three variations)
From the pantry, you'll need: butter, all-purpose unbleached flour, granulated sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, kosher salt, sea salt, roasted unsalted peanuts, walnuts, cinnamon, powdered ginger, crystallized ginger, pure vanilla extract.
Why not set up a make-your-own-cake buffet for your friends? Start with the basic ingredients, and let everyone mix in their own flavorings. My husband Ted voted salty peanut as best of the bunch, with double ginger a close second, and cinnamon walnut great, too. Each mug serves 1, or 2, if you're willing to share.
For the basic recipe:
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp milk (any type; I use nonfat)
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tbsp all-purpose unbleached flour
For the salty peanut cake, add to the basic recipe:
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
For the double ginger cake, add to the basic recipe:
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp chopped crystallized ginger
For the cinnamon-walnut cake, add to the basic recipe:
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chopped walnuts
In an 8-oz microwave-safe mug or measuring cup, melt butter in the microwave (20-30 seconds on HIGH).
Stir in the remaining ingredients, including your choice of add-ins, and mix well. Microwave for 60 to 75 seconds on HIGH.
Optional: top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
The best fudge brownies ever, from Cooking on the Side
Everyday chocolate cake, from Smitten Kitchen
Mexican chocolate brownies, from Baking Bites
Chipotle flourless chocolate cake, from Simply Recipes
German chocolate cake, from David Lebovitz
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