delicious Mexican hot chocolate mug cakes

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom.

In November, I introduced a new column idea: Dessert for Two. Based on your comments and emails, you love the idea! I love it too! So today, I’m happy to share recipe number 2 in the series, and my goal is to make it a monthly column.

cinnamon almond hot chocolate mug cakes

In case you missed the intro post, the idea behind the series is not necessarily romantic. I’m picturing a late night treat just for you and someone you love — your spouse, your best friend, your teenager who is up late hitting the books. Maybe eaten in celebration or sympathy after a particularly challenging day. (We survived!)

Mexican hot chocolate mug cake

This recipe-for-two is by Lindsey Johnson, and it basically looks like chocolate heaven. Plus, it’s made in the microwave! Can’t get easier than that. Thoughtful woman that she is, Lindsey also included notes on how to make gluten-free and dairy-free variations.

Before we jump into the recipe, I’d love your thoughts. What sorts of desserts do you crave — especially late at night? Is chocolate your thing? Or do you favor fruit? Maybe something creamy? Caramelized everything? Light cakes or meringues? Dense brownies or fudge? Let me know in the comments. As I develop the column, I want to make sure it includes a lot of variety.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Mug Cakes for Two-2

Here’s what Lindsey has to say:

I’m sure by this point you’ve heard about and probably even tried mug cakes. A few years ago they were all the rage and they were everywhere online and offline. And I totally fell in love with them. What’s not to love about a dessert that you can make in small portions when a craving hits, and it takes around 5 minutes total? There’s everything to love, and then some.

If you can’t tell, I am still a fan of mug cakes. I think they are awesome! They’re even more awesome if they are of the chocolate variety. And they make the perfect dessert for two.

cinnamon hot chocolate mug cake batter

I’m just going to be honest here and say that sometimes I just want a dessert that I don’t have to share with my kids (or my husband). They always seems to find my secret stash of ice cream in the back of the freezer anyway. I can whip up a mug cake (or two) after the kids go to bed and be sitting down to binge watch my favorite show, er, or whatever you do while you’re digging into dessert and having some kid-free time. And really, these are good anytime.

I’m just saying sometimes dessert tastes a little bit better in the quietness of bedtime with a side of adult conversation. And when each person has their own mug. (Gimme.)

Mug Cake ingredients

You don’t need any fancy ingredients. Well, I used almond meal in these because I like the texture it adds, but that’s easily substituted if it’s not something you keep in your cupboard or prefer not to use. Chances are you already have everything else on hand.

making Mexican hot chocolate mug cakes

Also, you definitely don’t have to be a phenomenal baker to make these. If you can work a whisk and push buttons on a microwave, you can make mug cakes.

My take on the ubiquitous chocolate mug cake is to take it into the Mexican hot chocolate territory by adding a little almond flavor (almond meal and extract), a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a dash of cayenne for a little kick. And if you’re like me, you really appreciate some melty, gooey chocolate  Thanks to a spoonful of chocolate chips on top, it’s pure magic. Like, so addictive. I’m not even going to lie to you. You may make them daily for awhile.

I’ve learned a few tips about making mug cakes. The first one is pretty obvious: don’t overcook/bake the mug cakes. All microwaves cook differently, so where it might take one minute in my microwave, it may take 2 minutes or more in your microwave. Start with one minute and add time as needed. It make take making these a few times to find the perfect amount of time for your ‘wave, and it will be a tasty, tasty experiment indeed.

In this case it’s better for the cakes to be a little undercooked than overcooked. (And don’t worry, the egg totally gets cooked even if the batter feels a little on the gooey side.)

prepping chocolate mug cakeschocolate mug cakes prepchocolate mug cake batter

Second thing: you don’t have to add eggs, but I like mugs cakes better with eggs. It feels more cake-like to me. One egg for two mug cakes works pretty great. If you halve the recipe, just use an egg white or egg yolk. Second thing, part B:  you don’t have to add chocolate chips, but it’s so, so good if you do.

making chocolate mug cakesbatter in mugshot chocolate mug cakes

Third, mugs do not come in one size. I found that 12-ounce mugs works great. A tea cup is too small. If that’s all you have, just fill it about 1/2 full to allow the batter to rise up. The cakes will sink after cooking.

By the way, the top will still look a little damp even if it’s cooked thoroughly. That’s because it doesn’t get a nice browned top like it would in the oven.

delicious hot chocolate mug cakes

Lastly, the toppings are optional, but you’re probably going to want some. I mean who doesn’t love a pretty dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle of chocolate shavings and sliced almonds?

Mexican Hot Chocolate Mug Cakes for Two
Serves 2

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons almond meal (or more all-purpose flour)
1/4 cup sugar
2-4 tablespoons cocoa powder (use more for a darker cake)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons oil (see note)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
To serve: whipped cream, sprinkle of cinnamon and cocoa powder, chocolate shavings, sliced almonds

1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and spices. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the milk, egg, oil, vanilla, and almond extract. Whisk until smooth.

2. Divide the batter evenly between two 12-ounce mugs. Sprinkle each one with 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips, if using.

3. Microwave on high power for 60-90 seconds, depending on the microwave wattage. The cakes will rise up and then fall again. Check center of cake to see if it’s cooked through. If not, microwave again at 10 second intervals until done. Be careful not to cook for too long or cakes will be dry and crumbly instead of fudgy.

4. Cool slightly and top with whipped cream and desired garnishes.

hot chocolate mug cake recipe

-To make these gluten-free, use all almond meal or substitute a gluten-free all-purpose baking blend for the flour.
-I haven’t personally made these in an oven, but if I did, I would bake the batter in buttered ramekins at 350°F for about 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
-To change up the flavors, add different spices like cardamom or ginger in addition to the other spices, or omit the others and use your favorite.
-Instead of chocolate chips, you could try adding fresh raspberries to the batter before cooking/baking.
-Not a chocolate fan? No worries. Just substitute flour or almond meal for the cocoa powder and up the vanilla extract a tad.
-I use avocado oil almost exclusively, but melted butter or coconut oil, or your oil of choice can be substituted.
-To make a non-dairy version, substitute your favorite non-dairy “milk” such as coconut or almond, or use water instead.

hot chocolate mug cakes recipemug cake batter


Oh my goodness. Thank you, Lindsey! I can not wait to try this tonight. And an extra thanks for including a note on making it vanilla instead of chocolate. I feel like I got two recipes in one!

Dear Readers, if you make this, I’d love to hear how it goes. I hope it hits the spot whenever you need it most.

Credits: Images, styling & recipe by Lindsey Johnson. Assistance by Amy Christie.