Chocolate Mug Cake
Mug cakes are a class of cake that is cooked in a ceramic or glass mug in a microwave oven. Due to the efficient nature of these ovens, this Chocolate Mug Cake can be prepared in about one minute!
The result is a warm chocolate cake that's light and fluffy in the center with a rich, fudgy sauce enrobing the cake. I've been a recipe developer for over 12 years now, and I've probably created over 2500 recipes in that time, but this Chocolate Mug Cake has the best taste to effort ratio of anything I've ever made.
Although it can be prepared in about 1 minute, it tastes like a molten lava cake that you might order at a restaurant. I love having these with a glass of milk, but you can gussy it up with a dollop of cream or some fresh berries.
Why this recipe works
- Since there is no wheat flour in this recipe, it is gluten-free, which makes the cake very tender.
- There's no fancy mixing technique necessary for this cake, but the trick lies in how it's cooked.
- By slightly undercooking the batter, it leaves a molten layer of chocolate sauce on the outside of the cake, which serves as a sauce for the cake.
What are the ingredients for Chocolate Mug Cake
- Oil - The oil prevents the cake from sticking to the sides of the mug. It's very important to apply an even layer of oil to every surface of the interior of the mug; otherwise, your cake will not rise evenly, and it could be challenging to unmold.
- Cocoa Powder - The chocolate flavor comes from the cocoa powder, and the higher the quality of your cocoa powder, the better your cake will taste. I do recommend using Dutch-processed cocoa powder as opposed to a "natural" one. Dutch-processed cocoa has been treated with an alkalizing agent (base) to neutralize its acidity. The reaction makes the cocoa powder much darker in color and gives it a more chocolatey taste. My favorite brand of dutch-processed cocoa powder is Valrhona.
- Sugar - The sugar is in this cake for sweetness. If you find the cake too sweet, you can reduce the amount of sugar, or use alternative sugars.
- Egg - Egg provides both lifting power as well as structure to this cake and is an integral part of this recipe. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a 1-to1 plant-based substitute for the egg for this chocolate mug cake recipe.
- Cream - The cream in this mug cake serves as a liquid, flavoring, and fat. You can substitute it with any liquid that's relatively high in fat such as coconut cream, or non-dairy creamer.
- Vanilla Extract - Adding vanilla extract is optional, but I like the flavor it adds. You can also add other flavorings to this like instant coffee, or liquors like rum or Kahlua.
- Baking Powder - Baking powder is a leavening agent that's made from baking soda (a base) and cream of tartar (an acid). When a liquid is added, these powders mix in the solution, reacting to form carbon dioxide gas. The release of this gas forms tiny bubbles, which helps doughs and batters rise.
How do you make Chocolate Mug Cake?
The first thing you need to do is oil the mugs you're going to use. I recommend using mugs with tapered sides as it makes it easier to unmold, but as long as you oil it well, a mug with parallel sides will work as well.
Then you want to add the sugar and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl. It's important to sift the cocoa powder; otherwise, you may end up with lumps of bitter cocoa powder in your cake.
Add the egg, heavy cream, and vanilla extract to the bowl and whisk everything together until smooth. Since there is no gluten in this recipe, you don't need to worry about overmixing the batter at this stage, so make sure you whisk it until everything is well combined.
Add the baking powder and whisk it in. At this point, you don't want to overmix it, or you risk losing the air bubbles the baking powder releases, so give it a quick mix until there are no lumps, and move on to the next step.
Divide the cake batter between the two oiled mugs.
Microwave the cakes one at a time in the center of the microwave. You want to cook it until the batter reaches about halfway up the sides of your mug. The batter should be set in the middle, but the top should still be glossy. In a 1000 watt microwave oven, it will take about 19-20 seconds. At 800 watts, it will take about 22-23 seconds.
Unmold the Chocolate Mug Cake onto a plate and serve it while it's still hot.
Variations of Chocolate Mug Cake
- Chocolate Peanut Butter - Drop a dollop of peanut butter into each mug before you microwave it for a chocolate peanut butter cake.
- Chocolate Raspberry - Add some fresh or frozen raspberries (or any berry) to the batter before cooking it to give it a little zing.
- Chocolate Mocha - Add some instant coffee granules to the batter before mixing it, and then top the finished cake with a dollop of whipped cream to make it taste like a mocha.
- Double Chocolate - Add some chocolate chips to the batter for a double dose of chocolate in your mug cake.
Other quick desserts
- Molten Chocolate Omelette
- 1-Minute Chocolate Pudding
- Crispy Peppermint Bark
- 5-minute Sticky Toffee Pudding
- Citrus Posset
Yes! You'll need a microwave-safe mug and a special batter, but it's possible to make a decadent self-saucing chocolate cake in the microwave.
Once you have the ingredients ready, this Chocolate Mug Cake can be prepared and cooked in about 1 minute.
Both cakes are made with a similar batter; however, a Chocolate Lava Cake is typically made in a ramekin and baked in the oven for a short period of time. This sets the exterior of the cake, while the interior remains molten. This Chocolate Mug Cake is cooked in a mug in the microwave. Due to the insulating properties of ceramic, and the way a microwave cooks, the interior of the cake cooks before the exterior, which results in a fully cooked cake covered in a molten chocolate sauce on the exterior.
Reduce the amount of time the cake is cooked in the microwave, and your cake should end up fudgier.
To make this cake cakier, you'll want to increase the amount of time you cook it for. By fully cooking it, it will have a texture more similar to a regular chocolate cake.
The most likely culprit is that the mug cake was overcooked. Try cooking for less time next time.
There are a couple potential culprits here. The most common one is that the mug wasn't placed in the center of the microwave. Microwave ovens have hot spots, and in most ovens, this is the center. When the mug is placed off-center, it will cook more on one side than the other, which will result in a lopsided cake. If your mug was placed in the center, it is possible the hot spots in your microwave aren't in the center, in which case you can try and move the mug around your microwave in future attempts to find the right place to put it.
Another possibility is that your cup wasn't oiled evenly. If there are areas of the mug that didn't receive an even coating of oil, the cake will stick to that area, resulting in uneven rising.
The final possibility is that your batter wasn't whisked together evenly.
Because this batter contains eggs that are being undercooked, if you are concerned about foodborne illness, or have a weakened immune system, you should either cook it through all the way (i.e., without the sauce), or you should use pasteurized eggs.
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- Split the oil between two mugs and use your fingers to spread the oil evenly along the bottom and sides of the inside of the mug.
- Add the sugar to a bowl and sift in the cocoa powder.
- Add the egg, heavy cream and vanilla extract, and whisk the mixture until smooth.
- Add the baking powder and whisk it in until there are no lumps, but be careful not to over mix it.
- Split the batter between the two oiled mugs.
- Microwave the mugs one at a time until the batter rises halfway up the sides of the mug. In a 1000 watt microwave, this takes about 20 seconds.
- Flip the cake out onto a plate and eat it while it is still warm.
Hi Marc, I was wondering if done mixing the batter, can it be put aside till ready to bake as dessert?
Marc Matsumoto says
Hi Irene, once you mix the baking powder in, it is activated by the liquid, so you only have a limited amount of time before it looses it's rising power. If you want to make the batter ahead of time, I'd recommend mixing everything up until the point of adding the baking powder. Then you can stir in the baking powder just before you pour it into the mugs and cook it.
why don't you have on your recipes'print this recipe?'
Marc Matsumoto says
Hi Jena, there's a "print" button at the top of the recipe card.
so sry, I guess I didn't see it till after I commented. but thx
I made this today and have to say it’s now my favorite chocolate mug cake out of the several highly-rated online recipes I’ve tried. Those have various kinds of tricks as well, including one with no egg etc! I think the absence of flour really makes an interesting n nice difference to the result. I’ve noticed you don’t put any salt (not even a pinch) in your chocolate recipes —(like the chocolate granola recipe) and wonder if there’s any reason why, since many sweet recipes also include a tiny bit of salt to bring out the flavor?
Marc Matsumoto says
Hi Sharon, I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it! Sorry for the late response. The way it works is that salt has a synergistic effect with compounds that produce the taste of umami. This makes savory things taste better, and the thinking goes that it works for sweets as well (which it does), but I just don't enjoy the taste of the salt in sweets. That's why I generally try and use ingredients in may sweets with a high concentration of amino acids that produce the taste of umami, so it doesn't necessarily need to be boosted by the salt. That being said, if you don't mind the taste of the salt, you can certainly add a pinch to amp things up.
This looks amazing! If I were to bake it in the oven (I’m planning on baking something so why not?), how long do you think I’d take? 🤔
Marc Matsumoto says
Thanks Natalia, I've never tried baking this in an oven so I'm not sure how long it would take. One thing that I will mention is that you won't get the saucy exterior like in the photos if you do this in a regular oven and it will probably be more like a regular chocolate cake.
Dear Marc, thank you for your answer! I decided to do instead your panna cota and it was incredible.
Did I do something wrong? Worst mug cake I've made in a while. Tasted like dry chocolate rubber--gross! Yet I see Sharon who commented earlier loved it so it must have come out different for her! Weird but I guess it is just a bit of a fickle recipe? Why did it come out so bad for me but good for you and Sharon?
Marc Matsumoto says
Hi Sara, sorry to hear it didn't turn out. It sounds like the cake was overcooked. Depending on the wattage of your microwave, it can take as little as 15 seconds, or as long as 30 seconds. Please try and reduce the amount of time you're cooking it for next time. It's best to keep a close eye on it as it rises and stop the microwave when you see the batter has tripled in size.