It's incredibly easy to indulge in treats sweet and savoury over the Christmas holidays, which is one of the most beautiful and frightening aspects of these few months. It can be a hassle trying to battle the bulge and your demand for chocolate at the same time.
But it can get a little bit easier when you put in the tiniest amount of effort. But it has to be the right amount of effort — just enough that you feel like you won't want anything else, and not too much so that the process becomes arduous.
Here's how you do it.
Image courtesy of YouTube
This is a tried-and-tested gooey Nutella microwavable mug cake which I've made in multiple locations for many, many people (although mostly myself, because I like being a glutton). It's a nice easy way to kick your cravings to the kerb without resorting to a block of chocolate or other packaged treats that can become incredibly easy to binge on.
You'll need these things:
- Some plain flour
- A jar of Nutella (or peanut butter)
- Sugar (caster, white, brown or raw all works, although each results in a slightly different texture)
- Cocoa powder
- A really large mug
Optional ingredients you can add: coffee powder (I like instant, because I'm a terrible human being) and vanilla essence, although it'll work just fine without it.
To start, get your big microwavable mug and put two tablespoons of cocoa powder in. To make this as easy as possible, I grab whatever tablespoons are available. As long as you use the same teaspoon (or same sized, if you're paranoid) throughout, you'll be fine. (If it's particularly shallow, make sure the teaspoons are heaped.)
Once the cocoa is in, throw in two tablespoons of sugar. If you make these often enough, you'll find that using a different type of sugar results in a different texture each time. Optionally, you can also replace one of the tablespoons of sugar with a tablespoon of coffee powder.
After you've chosen your preferred method of chocolate attack, add four tablespoons of plain flour. If you're worried about the leavening process, don't: the microwave will take care of that. The only trick here is to make sure you don't add too much flour, since the mixture will become incredibly thick and you'll need to add more milk to even it out. To stop that from happening, just make sure the tablespoons of flour are less than the heaped amount of cocoa you put in and you'll be fine.
Grab a fork and mix around until the dry ingredients are just combined. Now it's time for the wet stuff.
Using milk of your choice — I always go with full cream — pour out 5 tablespoons of milk. I basically fill the spoon, rotate it downwards once it's full and continue pouring until I hit five tablespoons, although you can go slower and measure things out more precisely if you like. It doesn't matter a great deal, though.
Grab a long, flat knife. Large butter knives are great for this, since you want to collect all of the cocoa, sugar and flour on the bottom and sides of the mug (something forks don't do particularly well). Mix and mix and mix until what you have in the mug looks like your typical cake batter.
It's at this point you'll know whether you'll need to fix things. If you're finding it particularly tough to get the mixture to come together, add another dash of milk and keep mixing. If the mixture looks like it's too wet, grab another spoon and add some more flour.
The last step in the process is to take your gooey ingredient — Nutella, in this case — and dollop a fat wad of it straight on top of the batter. The heavier or lighter that mixture is, the more Nutella will sink to the bottom. It's good if the Nutella doesn't sink too quickly, because then it can meld into the rest of the cake as it cooks.
Once you've got as many lumps out of the batter as possible, it's reasonably smooth and your goo of choice is adorned on top, stick the lot, uncovered, in the microwave. You'll want to microwave it for 70 seconds (1000W), although every microwave is different and you might want more or less time depending on your appliance.
I found at home using my inverter microwave, for instance, 65 seconds was perfectly fine. With the office turntable microwave, 70 to 72 seconds was more ideal. You'll have to find out yourself precisely what the sweet spot is; like decrepit, electric stoves, microwaves can be fiddly.
Ideally, when the cake is done it'll have risen nicely and you'll be able to see a small amount of Nutella in the top. If the batter doesn't have enough milk, the Nutella won't have sunk and the top of your cake will just be coated in warm, gooey Nutella. That's nice, although things can get a tad dry once you get into the bottom of your mug cake. That's why it's better for the batter to be wetter than thicker, although it's also less prone to rise the wetter it is (and you may want to increase the cooking time by a few seconds to compensate).
Overall, you're left with a warm, instant quick-fix chocolate cake with a gooey center that lasts several bites and should be enough to satiate any cravings. It obviously won't hold a candle to something properly baked in an oven, and done properly the texture is akin to a steamed cake. But with a bit of cream on top and enough Nutella (or peanut butter!), this'll help to stop you from continually reaching into the pantry for more chocolate over the holidays.