Hot Chocolate Cake: All Meanings Realized

I’ve been making this Hot Chocolate Cake for years but only recently noticed the ambiguous title. Then, I also noticed that all possible meanings are borne out. How fun!

The temperature’s hot. The spices are hot. Follow your honey into the bedroom with it: Super-hot!

Not only is the chocolate cake Hot! Hot! Hot! but it’s also just like a steaming mug of hot cocoa (thus, Hot-Chocolate Cake):

  • It’s cooked and served in a mug.
  • It’s topped with a cool mountain of whipped cream.
  • The blaze of chili and cinnamon heat me up just like the Mayan Hot Chocolate served at Soma in Toronto’s Distillery District.
  • And, the cake is “baked” in the microwave, which is how I warm a quick mug of hot cocoa.

I guess it’s Hot Hot Hot Hot-Chocolate Cake. Maybe I should consider a different title. How about:

Warm ‘n’ Spicy Hot Cocoa Cake for Two

The original idea for a microwaved chocolate cake in a mug came to me via email from my friend Amy years ago. Since then the trend has caught on everywhere such that googling “microwave cupcake in a mug” yields thousands and thousands of similar recipes and many interesting variations. There’s even a book devoted to the genre: 101 Recipes for Microwave Cupcakes by Stacey J. Miller. Here’s my variation on the theme. Be warned: It’s hot!

Serves 2 (or 1 serious hot chocolate lover)

  • 5 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 and 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 and 1/2 tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (add less if you’re afraid but do try a little bit at least once. If you’ve never had spicy chocolate before, you’re in for an experience).
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup whipped cream (from a can or made from whipping cream, I prefer unsweetened here)

In a large microwave-safe coffee mug combine the dry ingredients. Add the milk, oil and vanilla and stir to combine.

Microwave on high power for 1 minute. Microwaves vary: If a fork stuck in comes out with soft crumbs rather than uncooked dough, you’re all set (and so is the cake).

Top with the whipped cream and garnish with a dash of cinnamon or some chocolate shavings. Share it with someone you love.


Check out the other posts in my series Linguistically Ambiguous Foods:


Find out about Cook the Story themes past, present and future.


Get unsweetened cocoa powder info and recipes at Foodista:

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder


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  1. #1 by Mike Pittman on February 28, 2011 - 9:27 am

    We used to serve the hot chocolate cake at the restaurant. Its delicious!

    • #2 by cookthestory on February 28, 2011 - 10:27 am

      I totally forgot that you guys used to serve it. It would be perfect for after a sledding!

  2. #3 by Angela on February 28, 2011 - 9:50 am

    Totally forgot about this! Guess what’s for dessert tonight!

    • #4 by cookthestory on February 28, 2011 - 10:26 am

      Did I give you the recipe before or after I started adding the cayenne and cinnamon? If you haven’t tried it with those added spices, you really should. If it’s your first time with spicy chocolate, I’d add less than the 1/8 teaspoon to start out.

  3. #5 by Kristina on February 28, 2011 - 11:36 am

    No eggs? Cake in a microwave? Baked in a mug? Mind = blown.

    And I like your thought-provoking linguistic series. It’s very “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves” of you 🙂 I was just doing a thing on biscuits made with leftover herbs and the temptation to call them “leftover biscuits” was huge, but your series halted the typing and I settled on the much less ambiguous “herb biscuits.”

    • #6 by cookthestory on February 28, 2011 - 11:39 am

      Very happy to have blown your mind! But be warned, this cake is so easy to make that it has yet another name in our house: Dangerous Chocolate Cake.

      I just saw your post on Blogher about the biscuits. LOVE the freezer tip. If my avocado biscuits work, I’ll be sharing it (credit to you) on my blog.

  4. #7 by phyllis pittman on February 28, 2011 - 2:26 pm

    I have been thinking about what kind of dessert to make for the company coming on Thursday. This is perfect. All couples can share one, and I have all the ingredients except the whipping cream. Perfect, thank you.

    • #8 by cookthestory on February 28, 2011 - 3:57 pm

      That’s a great idea! Serving one to each couple will be such an interesting way to end the meal. Oh, we paired some Malbec with the spicy cake on Saturday night. It was an awesome combination. If you have any of your case of Malbec left, this would be a perfect dessert to serve it with.

  5. #9 by Kathy McCaw on February 28, 2011 - 5:10 pm

    Sounds delicious. Will give it a try.

    • #10 by cookthestory on February 28, 2011 - 6:25 pm

      If you do, let me know what you think. Mike and Ange used to serve a version of it at the restaurant (without the spices). They say people really liked it.

  6. #11 by Dani on February 28, 2011 - 6:58 pm

    I just heard about this chocolate cake microwaved in a mug phenomenon a few weeks ago. I love the idea of adding cayenne pepper.

    • #12 by cookthestory on February 28, 2011 - 7:23 pm

      If you do try it, let me know what you think. It is a big kick of cayenne for a little cake but it makes it feel like you’re breathing chocolate.

  7. #13 by Kimberly on March 4, 2011 - 10:51 pm

    Oh my….sounds divine. And so easy to make!

    • #14 by cookthestory on March 5, 2011 - 9:31 am

      The easiness makes it a VERY dangerous recipe.

  8. #15 by Sherry on March 7, 2011 - 6:07 pm

    I have NEVER heard of this! Sounds amazing. I kinda like chocolate 🙂

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