Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here. You do need to measure out a handful of ingredients and stir them together, but we’re talking 1 minute tops, between your dark chocolate fantasies and passing a spoonful of this chocolaty cake between your lips.
How is this even possible you ask?
Through the modern miracle known as the microwave oven of course. Contrary to popular belief, microwaves do not “nuke” food with ionizing radiation (like in a nuclear reactor). They pass microwave radiation (which is a non-ionizing radiation just like radio waves and visible light) through your food, causing the water molecules to rotate to align their poles with the alternating field of microwave energy. The resulting friction is what heats your food up.
Because most mugs are not fully microwave transparent, the cake tends to cook from the top down, giving you a rich velvety chocolate sauce that drizzles down the sides of your cake when it’s unmolded. The trick is in stopping the microwave at just the right time. Too long and you’ll end up with a spongy hockey puck. Too short and you’ll have a dense chocolate pudding.
It’s literally a hot mess and while they may not all come out looking great, what they lack in esthetics, they make up for in taste. Rich, decadent, and enrobed in a thick chocolate sauce, it’ll make you feel like you cheated some law of nature because it’s done so fast.
Since this cake is flour-less, it’s also gluten-free, which is not only good news for the gluten intolerant, it’s also great for the rest of us, since you don’t have to worry about over-mixing the batter.
If you’re like me, and find yourself without a Valentine this year, this is the perfect way to treat yourself to something nice. Sure, it makes two, but after you eat the first one, you’ll be glad to be single because there’s another cake waiting for you!
20 Second Chocolate Cake
- 1 egg - beaten
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- 1 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp oil
- Split the oil between two tall mugs with vertical walls, and then use your finger to spread it evenly up the sides, drain any excess oil. The mugs must be very well oiled or the cake will stick when you try and unmold it.
- Add the sugar to a small bowl, and then sift in the coco powder (a tea strainer works great for this). Add the heavy cream, egg and optional vanilla and whisk until there are no lumps. Sprinkle the baking powder on top and quickly mix together.
- Split the batter between the mugs and firmly tap the mugs on a towel-lined countertop to release any large air bubbles. Microwave one cake at a time.
- Since you don’t want to start and stop the microwave a bunch of times, set it for about 30 seconds, and closely watch the cake. It’s done when the cake rises about half-way up to sides of the mug (about 18 seconds in a 1000 watt microwave). The difference between a tender fluffy cake draped in velvety chocolate sauce and a chewy hockey puck is a few seconds, so you'll need to experiment to see what works best for your microwave.
- Because the mug retains heat, it will continue cooking until you unmold it, so have a plate ready and unmold the cake as soon as it comes out of the microwave.
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.