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Microwave Chocolate Cake for One

Microwave Chocolate Cake for One

Baking is really something that needs to be done in an oven because no matter how many instructions give you optional microwave directions, the food is always going to turn out a better when it is cooked in an oven. Frozen dinners are a good example of this, as they’re always more tender, more crisp and just plain tastier when they’re cooked in the oven before serving. But the microwave isn’t all bad, you just need to know its limitations. So, when I heard that there was a recipe for a 5 minute chocolate cake out there that was made in the microwave, I had a general idea of what to expect before I even tried it.

A cake that is baked in the microwave will have almost the same texture as a steamed cake, moist and a bit chewy, and while microwaved cakes can be made much faster, they will also be a bit less tender than a steamed cake. The crisp crust that results from the caramelisation of sugar in the oven won’t be found on a microwaved cake. This cake was no exception: soft, warm and slightly chewy. The cake also tasted quite nice and had a good chocolate flavor – especially for something that took virtually no time to cook or to prepare.

I changed up the original recipe by using coffee in it instead of milk (Kahlua would be good, too), and I added a little bit of salt and vanilla, as well. Cake flour keeps the cake from getting tough during cooking, but both it an the cocoa powder need to be sifted to prevent lumps from forming. I’ll keep this on file in case I need a chocolate cake fix really, really fast – or to share with friends who have an aversion to making things that require turning the oven on – but it’s not going to replace an oven-baked cake for me any time soon.

Microwave Chocolate Cake for One
You can use any microwave safe mug for this. I prefer a larger mug (coffee-house style) because it is easier to mix the ingredients.
4 tbsp cake flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch salt
1 large egg
3 tbsp strong coffee
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder and salt into a large coffee mug (or small bowl). Stir in egg, coffee, vegetable oil and vanilla, mixing until smooth. If you are mixing inside a coffee mug, be sure to scrape the corners well.
Microwave on high for about 3 minutes. Cake will puff up like a souffle and should appear to be “set” after 3 minutes. Cake will fall once removed from the microwave.
Serve in the mug, or turned out into a bowl, with a bit of ice cream or whipped cream.

Serves 1-2

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  • Tammy
    July 24, 2008

    I did see the original 5 minute cake, and had tried it out with some friends but it was pretty horrid. I think part of the problem was that the original recipe used measuring implements from Europe which to my understanding is different than American measurements? I guess their tablespoon is a different size. So it was pretty awful, kind of a chocolate brick, lol. I’m interested in trying yours though, so back to the microwave. My friend said she had some success with adding a bit of baking powder and eliminating the egg. Still, like you said, nothing beats an oven baked cake!

  • margot
    July 24, 2008

    My first thought when I saw this was that it might be a great thing to send to college with my daughter in a wet ingredient/dry ingredient kit form–she’ll have a microwave and a mug to “bake” it in!

  • margot
    July 24, 2008

    My first thought when I saw this was that it might be a great thing to send to college with my daughter in a wet ingredient/dry ingredient kit form–she’ll have a microwave and a mug to “bake” it in!

  • katie
    July 24, 2008

    I would like to try this without the coffee. Would you replace it with water? milk?

  • Nicole
    July 24, 2008

    Katie – Water will work, but I would go with milk as a substitute for the coffee.

  • Katrina
    July 25, 2008

    We did these as gifts this past year at the holidays. You can go the easy route and use boxed cake mix. Mix 1/3 cup powdered egg whites (we used Deb El Egg Whites, found in the baking aisle near the oil) to the whole cake mix. Then put 1/2 cup of cake mix (with the egg already mixed in) in a baggie. There were some cute written instructions with a poem about your own cake. To the mug you add the cake mix, 1 T. oil, 3 T. water, mix it up and cook in microwave for abou 1 1/2 min. (Check after one min.) We put cute tissue paper in the mugs, with the baggie of mix and a small baggie with 1 T. choc chips and 1 T. mini marshmallows. After cooking the cake, add the chips and mallows, I thought it was great with just the chips. Let sit a few minutes as the cake is too hot to eat right away, and the choc melts beautifully. These really are so good and easy and great teacher/neighbor/friends gifts at the holidays, especially if you use cute holiday mugs. We tied them with some ribbon. I can get the poem and instructions if anyone is interested.
    One box of cake mix made about 13 mugs. One teacher we gave them to like them so much she then made enough for her daughter’s whole basketball team and for one daughter to take to college. I was surprised at how good these were.

  • Kelly
    July 25, 2008

    Katrina, that sounds so cute! I’d love the recipe/instructions….

  • Cyndi
    July 25, 2008

    I’ve tried this with Splenda instead of sugar, and it works. That gives me a great low-carb chocolate cake for when I just have to have one!

  • Katrina
    July 25, 2008

    Here is the poem and instructions. (We don’t drink coffee, so we used the words hot cocoa mug, you could say coffee if you want.

    Here’s a little something
    a dessert just for you
    to make inside a hot cocoa mug
    and here is what you do:

    Follow the instructions carefully
    and when it’s done you’ll see
    your very own cake, so do not share
    this special gift from me.


    Generously spray inside of mug with cooking spray.

    Empty contents of bag into mug.

    Add 1 T. oil and 3 T. water to dry mix.

    Mix all ingredients well with a spoon.

    Microwave on high 1 ½ minutes.

    *When cake is done, add chocolate chips

    and marshmallows to top. Let melt while

    cake cools a bit. –*Note: You may add some

    of the chips and mallows in to the cake batter

    if desired.

    Enjoy your very own dessert while it’s warm.

  • Katrina
    July 25, 2008

    Oh, and these are also good using spice cake mix (you’d leave out the chocolate chips, but vanilla or white chocoate chips would be good on the spice cake) and yellow cake. Really any would work.

  • Emlod10
    July 25, 2008

    Have you ever tried No Pudge! Brownies? If you look on the box you can make single servings by using 2 Tablespoons brownie mix with 1 tablespoon non-fat vanilla yogurt…delicious! (And prevents you from eating the whole pan)

  • Allison
    July 25, 2008

    I’m so glad that you posted this recipe. Sophomore year, I was desperately hungry and tired and only had pancake mix in my dorm room, so I tried to make pancakes in the microwave. It turned out to be a hot mess, and my friends have mocked me ever since. But, I’m glad that you have found more success in making a cake, and I will definitely try that next time finals time rolls around.

  • weeknds
    July 26, 2008

    I tried to cook it but the result was horribly awful 🙁
    What is the cause in ur opinion?

  • Debbie
    July 27, 2008

    I tried this this morning. Pretty good though not quite sweet enough without frosting. So I put a Tablespoon of Frangelico liqueur on top. Yum!

  • maddi
    July 29, 2008

    i just made this but it wasn’t as great as i expected it to be.
    the chocolate flavour wasn’t rich enough and the cake was very dense and a bit dry.

  • Liesl
    August 4, 2008

    I have a really light and fluffy choc cake recipe that I use all the time. Pour a choc syrup over for dessert or a simple ganache for a fancy dessert. I’ve also made one with syrup and then poured melted hazelnut choc over. It never flops and is light and fluffy and uses no shortening or milk.


    1 cup cake flour
    1 cup sugar
    4 tbsp cocoa
    4 tsp baking powder (don’t know if you can get this in the US, I’m from South Africa – you could prob use baking soda, but don’t know what the ratio would be)
    2-3 eggs
    1 cup boiling water
    1 tsp vanilla essence

    Mix dry ingredients. Using a whisk, mix in eggs and some of the water. Add rest of water. Add vanilla.
    Pour into a mirowave bundt pan (I have silicon pan – works like a dream). Place on top of two sideplates (or saucers), one upside down, so that it looks like a flying saucer… Hope you understand?? Micrwave on high (850 Watt oven) for 6 minutes. Allow to stand 5 minutes. Turn out and serve. Pour cocoa/sugar/water syrup over and serve with ice cream, or frosting, or make a simple choc ganache using cocoa, sugar, cornflour, butter and water. This is always a winner and I always receive huge compliments!


  • Elle
    August 25, 2008

    This was super simple, and actually better than i thought. I read some of the “dry” comments, and so I added a bit of milk chocolate butter cream my sister had on hand. I applied it to the cake in the mug while still pipping hot, and it sort of melted into the cake. This made the whole thing extremely moist, and very decadent. If you have some frosting on hand (home made or store bought)use it.

    I’ll be giving this recipe to my boyfriend in college. A baggy full of the dry ingredients (including espresso powder, so he can get the taste without needing real coffee), and the recipe attached. Thank you a million times over!

  • Monica H
    September 24, 2008

    I saw this recipe on your blog several weeks ago…well tonight I was craving chocolate cake, and a tall glass of milk. So I tuned into your blog and made it in minutes. I was so excited to try it.

    It was such a huge dissapointment 🙁 It was extremely dry, chewy and not very flavorful. It didn’t have enough chocolate flavor for me- but that is really the least of it’s problems. I sprinkled a few chocolate chips on top after it came out of the microwave- sadly, that was the best part. It was really fun watching in “cook” though. If you have kids they would think it was really neat to watch it grow. Heck, I might even make it again just so I could watch it rise and fall again, but I wouldn’t eat it. Maybe it needed more milk, more oil, more cocoa or just an oven.

    I guess if I am craving chocolate at midnight (like I was tonight) I’ll just go to the fridge and squeeze chocolate syrup straight into my mouth. That should do it.

    I do love your blog and your other recipes though 🙂 Sorry for the rant.

  • VB
    October 28, 2008

    Hi, thanks for recipe. Could you please tell us what wattage microwave you used to turn out an edible cake? In my experience, it can make a huge difference in outcome if a different wattage is used. For example, if your cake was made in a 700-watt oven, then cooking it for the same amount of time in my 1000-watt oven will most likely produce leather. If you made yours in a 1200-watt oven, then I need to extend the cooking time slightly for my oven. I am drawn to simplicity and speed of this fun recipe (notwithstanding the warnings ) but have learned not to waste ingredients on a microwave recipe which does not clearly state wattage. Too many disappointments. Although 700 watts is the more-or-less accepted standard for microwave recipes, one can never be sure of wattage unless it’s clearly stated.

  • Arian
    February 11, 2010

    I tried it, and I was really excited ’cause come on its instant cake, whats not to love
    ! But, I ended up burning it somehow. It was rock hard and had to throw it away.

  • Liz
    July 18, 2010

    This recipe works great as long as you use self-rising cake flour and keep and eye on the cake. It is made even better by drizzling chocolate/caramel/raspberry/etc syrup over the top before microwaving. Take that, Betty Crocker!

  • charlamagne
    September 8, 2010

    i just made this usingcake mix, 1 egg and oil and water..and i have a 1100 watt microwave..and it literally seconds in between edible soft cake and dry cake….remember microwaves cook food s one way by heating up the water in foods…maybe it would be a good idea to cover it with a paper towel to help steam it and make it moist??? ill try that tomorrow… but hey im eating chocolate cak i made in 1.5 minutes… and i made it in a cereal bowl( maybe the surface area makes it dry out more too.. who knows??)

  • charlamagne
    September 8, 2010

    oh yeah…mine did not fall at all!!

  • AnastasiaB
    July 19, 2011

    I was feeling like a chocolate hit and google led me here! I was very apprehensive but thought I’d give this a go and it worked out great for me. I used 3 Tbs of baileys instead
    Of coffee, only 1 tbs of oil and 1 tbs of water. I used cake flour as suggested (well, that and I am out of everything but cake flour) Oh, and I used 2tbs of glucose powder instead of sugar. Cooked in a mug for 2 min 30 sec and it was great! Id go for just 2 min next time and it would be a little more moist. Overall though, it worked well for my first microwave cake! Not something id serve if I’m trying to impress though 🙂

  • Randomeenions « Smoked Jelly
    November 21, 2008

    […] Easy and Really Fast.  I didn’t for one thing like the smell of the oil in the cake. And as this site says, the texture is really very like a steamed cake. Chewy and not quite fluffy. (It vaguely […]

  • Annoyed. « Smoked Jelly
    November 21, 2008

    […] of calories. I didn’t like the smell (or taste) of the oil in the recipe, and true to what this site says, the texture was more chewy than fluffy and quite like that of steamed cake, but not as nice. […]

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