Mugs no longer limited to solving late-hour caffeine craving

Photo courtesy of Marie Solis.
Photo courtesy of Marie Solis.
Photo courtesy of Marie Solis.

Eating food out of mugs is usually a sign of having given up on life. Things I’ve eaten out of a mug include cereal, ramen and probably mac ‘n’ cheese at some point. Utensils are irrelevant. But just when I was convinced my mug-eating habits only indicated my life’s downward spiral, the silver lining emerged: the microwaveable mug cake. Portable dessert and happiness in five minutes or less.

Though I must say, at first I was extremely skeptical of this concept—and rightfully so. The idea of baking something in a microwave seems mildly repulsive at face value, especially with recipes including eggs. And while over the years I’ve become even more skeptical that eating foods containing raw egg is harmful—that is, cookie dough and cake batter, to be specific—eating a baked good with a whole egg in it after only one minute of microwave time just didn’t seem like a good idea.

Despite my better judgment, I tried it anyway. Mixing together the simple ingredients was satisfying, and the prospect of having a tasty treat in front of me with very little work, even more so. The results, however, were disastrous. As my chocolate cake rose in the microwave, so did the smell of egg. The outcome was no better: All I had produced was a spongy, bubbling mess that more closely resembled scrambled eggs gone wrong than the delectable dessert I was hoping for. With that, I decided that mug cakes were a BuzzFeed-fabricated myth. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and cakes cannot be baked in two minutes. Such is life.

Nonetheless, this spring break, with time to kill and a demanding sweet tooth, I decided to give mug cakes a second chance. Determined to be successful this time, I searched the Internet for insight and advice, eventually finding that many people shared my aversion to including an entire egg in only a handful of cake mix. With some more poking around, I discovered a recipe that included my favorite dessert couple, chocolate and peanut butter. Since the recipe required no egg, I was convinced I had found a winner and retreated to my kitchen.

The beauty of the mug cake is that it is perfect for an amateur cook and baker like myself. It requires simple ingredients, just a few minutes and a microwave—every college student’s best friend at one time or another. And really, once you get started you quickly realize the possibilities are endless.

As soon as you have the basics measured out, adding almost anything still guarantees a successful mug cake. Since I didn’t have much peanut butter left, and my friend Lorena was joining me in my mug cake redemption, I threw in some almond butter, which added even more flavor and texture. Try adding chocolate chips, crushed Oreos, sprinkles, marshmallows—whatever your little heart desires. So long as you don’t significantly alter the consistency of the batter, you can only make your cake more delicious with these extras.

As a dark-chocolate gal, Lorena wanted a little more bitterness to her dessert, so she added a tad more cocoa powder, making her cake richer, while mine had more of a nutty quality to it. We tossed our ingredients into our respective mugs, and took turns watching the magic happen. In just two minutes we had ourselves a perfectly portioned chocolatey treat, which in no way resembled the eggy catastrophe I had once made.

I still recommend a few tips to enhance your mug creation. First, consider letting your cake cook for less than the suggested time: After a little less than a minute, check out the situation and then judge if you should add more time. Dry cake is no one’s friend. Second, make sure to top off your mug cake. Try mixing your own icing, dollop on some whipped cream, or, as Lorena and I did, plop on a spoonful of Nutella.

With that, I’ll leave you to your mug and microwave. May all of your cravings be satisfied.

The Recipe


3 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

3 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon peanut butter


In a large mug, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the milk, vegetable oil and peanut butter. Whisk until smooth.

Cook in the microwave on high for about 1 minute (or a bit less, depending on desired consistency).

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