About once a year, I get depressed and make a mug cake. It is never very satisfying. There is something particularly bleak about measuring teaspoons and pinches of baking ingredients, only to be rewarded with a damp mug of something that is a vague approximation of cake.
Mug cake feelings crept up on me (almost like clockwork) a few weeks ago, though I ended up settling on a “bowl cookie,” which was just as bad, if not worse than the mug cakes of years past.
— Claire “kick the cops out of the AFL-CIO” Lower (@clairelizzie) June 25, 2020
Perhaps if I would just download TikTok already, things would have been different. Maybe I would have seen this Oreo mug cake recipe sooner, and maybe I would have made that instead. Perhaps, instead of a bowl of damp, spongey, but not chewy cookie batter, I could have had a mug of Oreo-flavored not-quite lava cake. Instead of measuring and stirring, I could have splashed and stabbed.
The most depressing aspect of mug cakes is how much effort they actually require. Flour, sugar, leavening agents and measuring spoons are all still needed, but the end product is disproportionately mediocre. Mug cakes mock their maker with their bland inferiority which, as it turns out, does nothing to help with depression.
Anyway. Since I don’t have TikTok, I first saw this sort of recipe on The Kitchn, where it was described as “magical.” I would not use that word to describe it, but this mug cake is certainly better than any other mug cake I have had. Taste- and texture-wise, it exists somewhere in between a BJ’s Pizzookie and molten chocolate cake, only a little lighter in flavour, and much less labour intensive than either.
In theory, all you have to do is throw some cookies in a mug, pour in enough milk to fill half the mug (about a third of a cup), and stab and mash until you have an Oreo sludge. The mug goes into the microwave for 75 seconds, and out comes a gooey chocolate cake.
In practice, my Oreo cake mug making experience varied only slightly from what was presented in the video. I had to microwave mine for a full minute and half — it was very liquidy at first — and I had to add a couple of extra Oreos to make a thick sludge. (It takes eight dry Oreos to fill the mug, but 10 total to get the batter where you want it.) The first Oreo mug cake was moist and warm, but not as chocolatey as I had expected it to be, so I made another one, and added two tablespoons of Hershey’s syrup to the milk, which (amazingly) made it more chocolatey.
All in all, I think I actually prefer the flavour and experience of eating four or five Oreos with a tall glass of cold milk, but this was still the best mug cake I’ve ever made, and it would be particularly good with ice cream. It’s not quite a cry for help — it’s more of a polite request for assistance — but the Oreo mug cake does not pretend to be something it’s not. Rather than masquerading as “actually quite good!,” it embraces the inescapable desperation that leads one to such a confection in the first place. “Stab the cookies,” it whispers, “stab them real good and make a sludge.” If that’s not a fitting mood for these times, I don’t know what is.