A fast, classy, cocoa dessert is just a microwave away

Cocoa Mug Cake. Photo by Jason Pramas. CC-BY-NC-SA 2022.
Cocoa Mug Cake. Photo by Jason Pramas. CC-BY-NC-SA 2022.

Last Saturday night, I wanted something sweet but my partner didn’t. So I thought: Why not make a cocoa mug cake? A one-person dessert that’s ready in a few minutes, uses a microwave rather than an oven, and only requires ingredients that most people have around—or can grab at any corner store. 

As usual for me with this kind of popular homespun recipe, I did a fast web search for a basic version (in this case from the Live Well Bake Often site) and modified it to my liking. The main change being the toppings. Rather than the recommended semisweet chocolate chips, I used dollops of a berry and cherry compote I had made the day before (I’ll run through that recipe in my next installment though you can swap in any jam or jelly) and crème fraîche that I had on hand for another dish (fear not, the more widely available sour cream works, too). 

Try whatever you like on your finished cake: regular or plant-based whipped cream, the frozen dessert of your choice, canned frosting, powdered sugar, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, gummy bears, Skittles, nut butter, marshmallow fluff, etc.




  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened or sweetened, dutch process or natural)

  • 3-4 tablespoons sugar (to taste, can also use a sugar substitute)

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1/4 cup whole milk (or plant/nut milk … or half and half or coconut cream for a real treat)

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (or other neutral oil)

  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I generally double the typical amount of vanilla)


  • Crème fraîche (or regular or plant-based sour cream)

  • Blackberry, raspberry, and cherry compote (recipe forthcoming)


  • A big microwave-safe mug (larger than a standard coffee mug)

  • 2 mixing bowls

  • Liquid and dry measuring cups

  • A teaspoon

  • A tablespoon


  • Lightly grease a big mug with butter, oil, or cooking spray.

  • Put dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and salt) in one bowl. 

  • Then put the wet ingredients (milk, oil, and vanilla extract) in the second bowl.

  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

  • Mix the combined ingredients with the tablespoon to make a smooth batter.

  • Pour the batter into the prepared mug.

  • Microwave the mug on full power for 60-90 seconds (75 seconds worked perfectly in my 900-watt microwave) until the cake cooks through.

  • Top with crème fraîche and blackberry, raspberry, and cherry (or your favorite fruit) compote and enjoy straight out of the mug.

Cooking for Clicks is syndicated by the MassWire news service of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. Jason Pramas is BINJ’s executive director and executive editor and associate publisher of DigBoston.