By Lauren Chattman
I have always had a problem with portion control, especially when it comes to homemade cookies. For years, I counted on my children and my husband to eat most of what I baked, so I wouldn’t be tempted to finish every last cookie that came out of the oven.
Now, my older daughter is at college, my younger daughter prefers the carob-dipped rice cakes at Provisions, and my husband has informed me that he intends to live to 100 by forgoing sugar for the next 50 years. It’s going to be all or nothing from now on, I thought, getting ready to bake two dozen cookies just for myself.
Then I noticed an intriguing category of recipes trending online: A single cookie, microwaved in a cup.
I’ve never been a fan of microwave baking, for a couple of reasons. Because the microwave heats cookie dough from the inside out, you don’t get the nice browning and crisp crust that you get in the oven, where cookies bake from the outside in. For the same reason, cookie dough is easily over-baked in the microwave. By the time the outsides of your microwave-baked cookies are dry, the insides are over-done. As these cookies cool, they will become rock-hard and instantly stale.
But when you are talking about just a single cookie, these problems disappear. Since you eat the cookie straight from the microwave and while it is still warm, it doesn’t have the chance to cool off and harden. What you give up in crispy crust, you gain in pudding-like softness and warmth.
There is also the instant gratification factor. Five minutes from the time you decide you need a microwave cookie, you will be scraping the sides of the mug with your spoon. And think about clean-up—or lack thereof. Just rinse out your mug and put it in the dishwasher. The dangerous thing about this technique is that it is so quick, easy, and satisfying that you may find yourself making several microwave cookies in a row.
If that’s what happens, you don’t have to make the same recipe over and over again. The basic formula is endlessly variable. Pick your favorite:
Sugar Cookie in a Cup: 2 tablespoons butter, ¼ cup granulated sugar, a few drops of vanilla, pinch salt, 1 egg yolk, ¼ cup flour
Oatmeal-Raisin Cookie in a Cup: 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, a few drops of vanilla, pinch salt, 1 egg yolk, 3 tablespoons flour, 3 tablespoons rolled oats, 2 tablespoons raisins
Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Cup: 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar, a few drops of vanilla, a pinch of salt, 1 egg yolk, ¼ cup flour
Spice Cookie in a Cup: 2 tablespoons butter, ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar, 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, a few drops of vanilla, a pinch of salt, 1 egg yolk, ¼ cup flour
Rocky Road Brownie in a Cup: 2 tablespoons butter, ½ ounce unsweetened chocolate, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, a few drops of vanilla, 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar, pinch salt, ¼ cup flour, 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts, a few mini marshmallows, 1 tablespoon semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
Peanut Butter Swirl Brownie in a Cup: 2 tablespoons butter, ½ ounce unsweetened chocolate, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, a few drops of vanilla, 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar, pinch salt, ¼ cup flour, 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter (just swirl it in after you mix everything else together, so it’s not completely blended)
Heath Bar-Chocolate Chunk Brownie in a Cup
I have to laugh, looking at this long list of ingredients going into one brownie! My intention wasn’t to complicate the recipe. I just couldn’t stop throwing in tablespoonfuls of what I had sitting around in the pantry. Edit out the espresso powder, Heath Bar Bits, and nuts and you have a simpler brownie.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 tablespoon Heath Bar Bits
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
1. In a microwave-safe mug, microwave the butter until almost melted, about 30 seconds. Stir until smooth.
2. Stir the cocoa powder, sugar, espresso powder, salt, and vanilla into the butter mixture. Stir in the egg yolk. Stir in the flour. Stir in the chocolate chips, Heath Bar Bits, and nuts.
3. Return the mug to the microwave and microwave until just baked around the edges and still soft in the center, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Do not overbake.
4. Let cool for a minute and eat warm with a spoon.