Mug cakes are exactly what they sound like: they are cakes that are “baked” in mugs in the microwave. If you want to be fancy about it, you can actually get away with calling this molecular gastronomy, but they’re just a way to get a warm, fresh serving of cake as quickly as possible. The problem with mug cakes is that they can be spongy and slightly rubbery in texture, but this is a problem that is easily solved by using a different type of cake batter to make them.
This is a job for a cake mix.
Believe it or not, cake mixes make much better mug cakes than most “scratch” recipes because they are designed to deliver an incredibly tender cake no matter how much mixing you do. That means that while most recipe become rubbery in the microwave, cake mix cakes actually remain much more soft and tender than “scratch” cakes tend to. Using a cake mix also means that the process of making a mug cake is even faster, so if a very quick and tasty cake is your goal, this is a natural path to take!
I used Pillsbury’s Caramel Apple Cake Mix to make this Salted Caramel Apple Mug Cake. The cake mix is a fall edition with a strong tart green apple flavor to it that really comes through in the finished cake. I doctored it up by adding apple pie spices – cinnamon, ginger, allspice and vanilla – and added a piece of salted caramel into the center. The cake smells like apple pie while it is in the [microwave]oven and the center liquefies during baking, so you can get a little salted caramel with every bite of cake. It is best when eaten still slightly warm.
You can make up to three batches of two servings each with one cake mix, and each serving will make a generous mug full of cake that is a tasty, quick treat on a cool fall day.
Salted Caramel Apple Mug Cake
1 cup Pillsbury Caramel Apple Cake Mix
1 large egg
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 soft caramels, unwrapped (such as Kraft)
1/4 tsp salt
In a medium bowl, combine cake mix, egg, water, vegetable oil, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and vanilla extract. Whisk vigorously until ingredients are well-combined and mixture is smooth.
Divide evenly into two microwave-safe, 11-oz coffee mugs.
Microwave for 45 seconds on 50% power. Stir with a fork. Microwave for an additional 45 seconds on 50% power. Roll caramels in 1/4 tsp of salt, then insert into the center of each cake. Press caramels down slightly so the top of the caramel is about level with the top of the cake. Microwave for 35-45 seconds on 50% power, or until the top of the cake is set and dry.
Allow cake to cool for 2-3 minutes before serving (caramel will be very hot).
Note: One whole box of cake mix will be enough for 6 generously sized mug cakes, so you can make them all at once, or seal up the leftovers in a ziploc bag for another snack.