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Gluten-Free Living

Gluten-Free living: Gooey goodness in a matter of minutes

  • Gluten-free cooking: Chocolate mug cake<br/>; Friday, May 3, 2003.<br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Gluten-free cooking: Chocolate mug cake
    ; Friday, May 3, 2003.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Gluten-free cooking: Chocolate mug cake<br/>; Friday, May 3, 2003.<br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Gluten-free cooking: Chocolate mug cake
    ; Friday, May 3, 2003.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Gluten-free cooking: Chocolate mug cake<br/>; Friday, May 3, 2003.<br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • Gluten-free cooking: Chocolate mug cake<br/>; Friday, May 3, 2003.<br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

If you’re trying to drop a few pounds before swimsuit season, stop reading now. Seriously. There’s probably a feature elsewhere in this food section that involves things like vegetables and whole grains. If, however, you want to know how to make warm, gooey, gluten-free chocolate cake in less than 10 minutes, follow me.

The secret to this on-demand dessert is the microwave. Toss a few common ingredients into a large coffee mug, mix and cook. Gourmet? No. Tasty, most certainly.

Mug cakes are also a non-threatening way to experiment with different gluten-free flours, a fun – and tasty – excuse to see how different starches and grains come together.

The idea of microwaving cake is far from new. Back in the 1980s, when microwaves were becoming a staple in American kitchens, Pillsbury marketed a popular line of nuke-and-eat cakes. More recently, countless food blogs have explored mug cakes of all kinds.

Making these treats gluten free is logical for a couple of reasons. Because the cake is prepared in single servings, you can throw one (or several) together for anyone who needs an allergy-safe dessert. The small size also makes these cakes extremely forgiving in terms of flours and flavorings. I’ve used almond meal, gluten-free Bisquick, the dregs of a bag of gluten-free pancake mix and – during one especially fierce cake craving – cornstarch. Your choice of flour will affect the cake’s texture, but not the taste.

The same goes for the sugar. White or brown is just fine, and I’ve had decent results with honey and maple syrup as well. Want to try Splenda, agave or another alternative sweetener? Why not?

I haven’t had success making this without eggs, but it would be easy to adapt for dairy-free diets as well. Just swap in a mild oil for the butter and use soy, rice or almond milk. If you’re adding chocolate chips, make sure those are also dairy and gluten-free.

These little cakes are best eaten a few minutes after they’re removed from the microwave, but leftovers should keep for a day if they’re tightly wrapped and refrigerated.

Gluten-free chocolate mug cake

2 tablespoons oil or melted butter

1 egg

2 to 3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons milk

a few drops vanilla

3 tablespoons cocoa

4 tablespoons gluten-free flour or flour blend of your choice

2 tablespoons milk chocolate chips (optional)

In a large mug, whisk together the oil, egg, sugar and vanilla. Slowly mix in the cocoa and gluten-free flour until the batter is smooth.

Microwave on high for 2 minutes, longer if necessary. The cake is done when it pulls away from the edges of the cup but is still moist on top. Cool for a few minutes, then dig in.

Variations: The possibilities are endless when it comes to mug cake. Try mixing any of these combinations into the batter before cooking:

Orange-spice: Add a pinch of cinnamon and a splash of orange juice.

Fudge walnut: Increase the chocolate chips to 3 tablespoons and stir in a small handful of walnuts.

Peanut butter cup: Swirl in a tablespoon of peanut butter.

Funfetti: Stir in a tablespoon of gluten-free rainbow sprinkles.

Mocha: Add a pinch of instant coffee
. . . or whatever is leftover in the pot from the morning.

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