Oh my. We're doomed. My young friends Reilly and Alden just showed me how they make single serving brownies, in a mug, in a microwave. Takes 5 minutes.
We did experiment a bit. Turns out that you really should not use a strongly-flavored extra virgin olive oil for this recipe, but a more mild-flavored olive oil works well. Melted butter or a neutral oil are also good.
A pinch of salt helps make the chocolate more chocolate-y. I've added some vanilla and a tiny bit of cinnamon; you could also add a speck of instant coffee to take it up a notch.
The brownie lacks for structure (no egg) but that's okay because it's contained by the mug. When it's done, it's HOT. Perfect for topping with a little vanilla ice cream or whipping cream.
The trick is getting the cooking time right for your microwave. Every microwave oven model is different.
One 1000 watt microwave we tested cooked these brownies in a mug perfectly at a minute 40 seconds. Our 1650 watt microwave cooked them in 1 min 10 seconds. So you may need to adjust the time to get the brownie to cook properly with your microwave.
A True "Brownie in a Mug"
Classic brownies don't have baking soda or baking powder, so you don't need it here to get a dense, brownie-like dessert. If you like something lighter, we'd recommend another mug cake recipe.
The brownie is fine on its own, but a little ice cream on top (or whipped cream, or a drizzle of unwhipped cream) pushes it to another level.
Pick the Right Mug
- Use a heavy ceramic mug with no metal accents.
- Generic mugs, like the kind you buy in a souvenir shop that say “#1 Grandpa” or “World’s Best Boss”, work best.
- Choose a mug that holds at least 1 cup of liquid. It makes mixing the brownie in the mug much less messy.
Let it Cool (Slightly!)
Resting the brownie briefly after it comes out of the microwave makes a big difference in its flavor and texture. Straight from the microwave, it’s too hot to enjoy, and may even burn your tongue.
Swaps and Substitutions
- Use mild, fruity extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter.
- Use melted coconut oil instead of butter.
- Use canola or another neutral oil instead of butter.
- For a vegan mug brownie: Use oil or melted vegan butter and non-dairy milk, coffee, or water.
- For a gluten-free mug brownie: Use a cup-for-cup gluten-free baking blend instead of the flour
- Add 1 tablespoon chocolate chips to the batter.
- Place an unwrapped foil-wrapped square of milk or dark chocolate on the brownie right after it’s done cooking and allow it to melt.
Brownie in a Mug
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) butter, mild extra-virgin olive oil, or neutral oil
- 1/4 cup (30 grams) flour
- 3 tablespoons (35 grams) sugar
- 2 tablespoons (13 grams) natural unsweetened cocoa powder (NOT Dutch processed)
- Pinch salt
- Tiny pinch cinnamon, optional
- 3 tablespoons (44 ml) milk, water, or coffee
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Ice cream, whipped cream, or heavy cream, for serving
Melt the butter, if using:
Put the butter in a small microwave-safe bowl or ramekin, and microwave at 50% power (power level 5 on most microwaves) for 30 seconds. If it’s not melted after that, continue to microwave in 10-seconds bursts until it is.
Combine the dry ingredients in a mug:
Place the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt (if using unsalted butter), and optional cinnamon in a microwave-safe ceramic mug. Stir with a fork until it resembles brown sand and there are no clumps.
Add the wet ingredients and stir:
Stir in the butter (or oil) with a fork until a paste forms. Then add the milk (or water or coffee) and vanilla, and stir with the same fork until smooth. The batter may look a little thin, but don’t worry—that’s how it’s supposed to be.
Cook in the microwave:
Microwave, uncovered, on high power for 1 minute.
You may need to adjust the time for less or more powerful microwaves. If you don't know the power level on your microwave, start with 1 minute and continue cooking in 10-second increments until the brownie is done. For a 1000-watt microwave 1 minute is good; for 1650-watt microwaves, we recommend 1 minute and 10 seconds.
After cooking, the brownie should still look a tad moist, not dry. Some wet-looking spots are okay; those will set up as the brownie rests.
Rest 4 minutes:
Let the brownie rest for 4 minutes. The inside of the brownie is very hot and still cooking, even though it’s not in the microwave. It may be hard, but the wait is worth it! It gives the brownie a better flavor and texture.
Top with ice cream:
Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a small dab of cream (whipped or unwhipped).