Featured comment: Made this with a whatchamacallit candy bar and topped it with whipped cream. It was delicious. – Devin
Update: This post was originally published in October 2015. I made edits to post below to include more information about chocolava cake. And there’s now a recipe video showing you exactly how easy it is to make this cake in a cup recipe at home!
About this cake in a cup recipe
If you, like the mister, are an extreme chocoholic, these Molten Chocolate Lava Mug Cakes are about to make your life so much sweeter (literally). These little cakes in a cup are filled with decadent, ooey gooey, fudgy, sticky, chocolatey goodness, sort of like a cross between hot pudding and cake.
In short, they’re magnificent.
Why you’ll love this easy cake recipe!
Aside from packing ALL the chocolate flavor, this incredible recipe for individual cakes is:
- Quick & Easy. You seriously only need 5 minutes of prep and 2 minutes in the microwave to create the richest, fudgiest homemade cake you’ve ever tried. It’s the fastest way to make dessert for one (or two).
- Beyond Delicious. With a tender texture, molten center, and plenty of chocolate flavor, this cake in a cup recipe is *chef’s kiss* delicious!
- Absolutely Foolproof. This is so simple you can whip up one of these easy lava cakes in a college dorm room with exactly zero baking experience.
- Made With Just 10 Ingredients. If you have a well-stocked pantry, chances are you already have everything you need.
- Versatile. Whether you’re looking for a fun and creative way to use up leftover Halloween candy, want to make them from dark or milk chocolate, or need either gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan dessert STAT, this microwave lava cake recipe has you covered. Read on below for lots of creative ideas!
What is choco lava cake?
These exceptionally rich cakes became popular in the 1980s and 90s, and chances are, you’ve at least seen a picture of one. Also known as “chocolate lava cake”, “molten chocolate cake”, or “chocolate coulant” (which means “flowing”), these delightful treats consist of chocolate cakes with a molten, gooey center. If you haven’t tried one yet, they’re a chocolate lovers’ delight!
What are mug cakes?
A mug cake is exactly what it sounds like – an individual cake made with classic pastry ingredients all in a portable mug! Mug cakes are great for a few reasons. For one, they are single serving, so you don’t have to worry about leftovers (or sharing, for that matter).
They’re also made with the convenience of a microwave, making them ideal for whenever you’re in need of a chocolate fix on the fly. Simply mix up your ingredients and give it a quick zap; you’ll have dessert for one ready in no time.
While there are a ton of cake in a cup recipes out there (you can even find ones for muffins or pancakes), this microwave lava cake is easily the mister’s favorite. Because CHOCOLATE. Melted, messy, creamy chocolate.
What does a mug lava cake taste like?
These mug cakes have a molten, fudge-y, ooey-gooey inside texture and a cake-like crumb, almost identical to a lava cake. These delectable, individual “cakes” are decadent, super chocolaty, sweet, rich, warm and completely comforting.
However, they taste best with a little something special garnishing the top. I typically top my mug cakes with whipped cream, coarsely chopped salted peanuts, a sprinkle of cocoa powder and a drizzle of warm salted caramel sauce. But you can top your molten chocolate mug cake with whatever your heart desires! A scoop of vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, chopped candy, whole candy bars – honestly, the sky is the limit. When it comes to toppings and your cake in a cup, select garnishes that complement or contrast the cake. Salty, crunchy, creamy, and/or cool toppings all work great with this microwave lava cake!
Ingredients for lava cake in a mug
This made-in-a-mug chocolate lava mug cake recipe requires just 10 simple ingredients, most of which are shelf-stable. Here’s what to grab:
- All-Purpose Flour – Regular white flour is all you need to make this truffle-like treat.
- Substitutions: Feel free to swap in cake flour if that’s what you have on hand. Or, use a 1:1 gluten-free flour mix if you need.
- Cocoa Powder – For the richest taste, use a combination of unsweetened cocoa powder and Special Dark Cocoa Powder.
- Substitutions: You can also use Dutch-processed cocoa, black cocoa, or cacao powder instead.
- Brown Sugar & Granulated Sugar – If you can only use one, opt for granulated sugar.
- Baking Powder – For leavening.
- Kosher Salt – Even sweet things need a touch of salt!
- Egg – To bind the chocolava cake all together.
- Substitution: I haven’t personally tried it, but research leads me to believe you can use your favorite vegan egg replacement. Try store-bought options like JUST Eggs or a flax egg (1 Flax Egg = 1 Tablespoon Flaxseed, whole or ground + 3 Tablespoons Water + Stir + 5 minutes).
- Whole Milk – Full-fat dairy for the best flavor.
- Substitutions: You can also use half and half for a richer cake. In a pinch, try using 2%, but I don’t suggest going any lower.
- Coconut Oil – Either refined or unrefined will work, but the latter will have a more pronounced coco-nutty flavor. Make sure it’s melted before you try mixing it into your batter.
- Substitution: Any neutral-flavored oil (e.g. vegetable, corn, canola, peanut, grapeseed, avocado) will also work.
- Vanilla Extract – Just half a teaspoon for depth of flavor.
- Substitutions: Feel free to play around here! Almond extract would be lovely, or you can lean more into the coconut flavor with half as much coconut extract. Adding a splash of imitation butter extract or coffee extract will it more gusto.
- Chocolate Chips – I personally prefer semisweet, but feel free to use milk, dark, or white chocolate instead. You can also use chopped chocolate bars.
- Substitutions: Swap in a few chopped fun-size candy bars
Mug cake recipe variations
One of the beauties of this mug lava cake is its versatility. Here are a few variations to consider:
- Dairy-Free – You can make this microwave lava cake dairy-free by using unsweetened plant-based milks. But I suggest opting for creamier options like oat, soy, or coconut.
- Vegan – Swap in your favorite dairy-free milk alternative. And you’ll need to swap in your favorite egg substitute and vegan chocolate chips (e.g. Enjoy Life) or candies.
- Sugar-free Mug Cake: Use your favorite sugar alternatives (e.g. Swerve, Lakanto) to make this a diabetic-friendly dessert. You can also use unrefined sugars, like coconut or cane sugar for the granulated, and grated piloncillo or jaggery for the brown.
- Gluten-Free – Use your favorite cup-for-cup gluten-free all-purpose flour blend.
- Fudge Mug Cake: Add 2-3 shakes of chocolate bitters to give your chocolate cake in a cup even more fudgy flavor.
- Candy-Filled Halloween Cake In A Mug – Instead of using chocolate chips, chop up some fun-sized chocolate candy bars leftover from trick or treating. Try Snickers, Milky Way, Kit Kat and Almond Joy. However, M&Ms, baking chips (e.g. toffee bits, peanut butter chips, or mint chips), or even soft caramels or a dollop of peanut butter are delicious, too.
- Bonus points if you garnish your chocolava cake with some toppers to bring out the flavors you use. Think – caramel and roasted peanuts for Snickers bars; melted peanut butter and hot fudge for Reese’s; etc.
How to make a chocolate lava mug cake
Making a chocolate mug cake lava-style is a snap. Here’s how it’s done:
- Step 1: Mix Dry Ingredients in a 14–16 oz. microwave-safe container.
- Step 2: Add The Wet Ingredients. Make a small well in the center of your dry ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the chocolate chips). Use a small whisk or fork and whisk the mug cake batter until *just* combined.
- Step 3: Short Nuke. Add the mug cake to the microwave and heat on high power for 1 minute.
- Step 4: Add Chocolate Chips. Scatter the chocolate chunks across the top of the batter.
- Step 5: Microwave. Return your mug cake to the microwave and heat on full power for an additional 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until the chocolate cake rises, the center is *slightly* firm and shiny, and the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the mug.
- Note: If your cake is still raw, continue to microwave in short 15-30 seconds bursts.
- Step 6: Serve. Remove mug cake from microwave and immediately drizzle with dessert sauces and enjoy! Or let cool on the counter for 1 minute before topping with whipped cream and digging in. YUM!
Tips for the best microwave mug cake
- Make sure you use a microwaveable container. It doesn’t have to be a mug! Glasses or mason jars and even bowls will work! Just make sure you use something with tall sides when cooking your chocolava cake to prevent overflow.
- Do not overfill the mug (or cup). The secret of making a microwave lava cake in a mug is to avoid overfilling your container. Nobody wants to clean up overflowing cake batter in the microwave, ya know? This is supposed to be easy-peasy.
- Microwave in 30 second intervals. Just like only filling the mug halfway, microwaving in intervals will help prevent overflow.
FAQs: microwave lava cake
Are mug cakes safe to eat?
Yep! So long as the center reaches 160F, the flour should be free of any bacteria that might harm you. If you’re feeling unsure, I highly suggest investing in an Instant Read Thermometer.
Can I make this chocolate mug cake if I don’t have a microwave?
I suppose so long as your mug or cooking vessel is oven-safe, you could use your toaster oven or regular oven instead. It won’t be quite as speedy though! Preheat to 350F and start checking around the 22 minute mark. Depending on the mug or container you use, your choco-lava cake can take between 22–30 minutes to cook fully.
Serving cake in a mug
Serve your microwave lava cake warm. Preferably topped with a dollop of whipped cream, cool whip topping, healthier yogurt whipped cream, a scoop of your favorite ice cream (any flavor, since everything goes with chocolate), chopped candy nuts, sprinkles, hot fudge or chocolate sauce, caramel or butterscotch sauce, and/or a fresh fruit purees or macerated fruits.
Pairs well with: cozy nights on the couch, face masks, home manicures, sappy rom-coms, & all forms of self-care.
More cake recipes!
If you are a lover of sweet treats, throw a cake party and pair your mug cake with other flavors, like:
- These festively fun Cake Ball Bites are the cutest.
- During the fall season, this Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake will win everyone’s hearts.
- Or if it’s the summer season, this fresh cake with strawberries and cream cheese is a must.
- Chocolate lover’s will fall for this Coffee Chocolate Cake.
Storing your individual cake
The whole idea of making a chocolate lava cake in a mug is that there will be no leftovers — it’s intended as a single serving (or a modest serving for two)! That said, feel free to cover and pop any leftovers in the fridge for later. Use within 3 days for the best results.
To reheat, you may want to transfer the leftovers to another container in order to prevent your mug from cracking due to a severe temperature shift. I’d say start with about 30 seconds to take the chill off. Make sure you don’t go overboard or the molten lava center will just become regular cake.
Ok, friends! Parting is such semi-sweet sorrow. You all warm my heart like a mug full of gooey choco lava cake. Now, go on and get (chocolate) chip faced. You deserve it!
More chocolate desserts!
If you love this chocolava cake in a cup recipe, try one of these chocolate treats next:
- Chocolate Trail Mix
- Chocolate Velvet Cake (skillet cake)
- Triple Chocolate Cookies
- Tiramisu Chocolate
How to make Chocolate Mug Cake recipe and step-by-step video👇
Chocolate Lava Mug Cake
- 1 14 to 16-ounce Mug
- 1 Small Whisk or Fork
- 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour - spooned & leveled (30 grams)
- 3 TBS Unsweetened Cocoa Powder - spooned & leveled (14 grams) (SEE NOTES)
- 2 TBS EACH: Light Brown Sugar & Granulated Sugar (sub: all white sugar)
- ¼ tsp Baking Powder
- ¼ tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 Large Egg – at room temperature & whisked
- 1/4 Cup Whole Milk (sub: Half & Half)
- 3 TBS Coconut Oil - melted (40 grams) (substitute: vegetable oil) (SEE NOTES)
- ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 to 1.25 ounce(s) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips or Chunks (sub: chopped chocolate candies, soft caramels, baking chips)
- Optional Toppings: Whipped Cream, Chocolate Sauce, Chocolate Curls, Roasted Peanuts, Salted Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Sprinkles
- Mix dry ingredients: To a 14 to 16-ounce microwave-safe mug, soup bowl or small bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, both sugars, baking powder and salt. Use a small whisk or fork to mix the dry ingredients together.
- Add the wet ingredients: Make a small well in the center of your dry ingredients. Add the whisked egg, milk, coconut oil and vanilla to the well. Use a small whisk or fork and whisk the mug cake batter until *just* combined.
- Short nuke in the microwave: Add the chocolate mug cake to the microwave and heat on high power for 1 minute.
- Add chocolates: Scatter the chocolate chunks across the top of the raw mug cake.
- Microwave: Return your mug cake to the microwave and heat on full power for an additional 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until the chocolate cake rises, the center is *slightly* firm and shiny, and the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the mug. If your cake is still raw, continue to microwave in short 15-30 seconds bursts.
- Enjoy: Remove mug cake from microwave and immediately drizzle with dessert sauces and enjoy! Or let cool on the counter for 1 minute before topping with whipped cream. Enjoy!
- Cocoa Powder: For the richest, chocolatey-est taste, use a combination of 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of Special Dark Cocoa Powder).
- Coconut Oil: Make sure your coconut oil is in a melted state before adding it to the mug cake batter. I just add my 3 tablespoons to a ramekin and melt it on high power for about 20-30 seconds.
- Mug size: The mug lava cake will rise significantly while microwaving. To prevent it from spilling over, make sure you use a large microwave safe mug, at least 14 ounces in capacity.
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