Kitchen Lab: Mug Shots

screenshot of a Facebook conversation about the awesomeness of mug browniesWhilst messaging with my sister (and having my nephew’s oddness transcribed for me) on Tuesday night, she mentioned this whole “brownie-in-a-mug” thing I keep seeing around Ye Olde Intarwebs.

“I’m cold,” she said. “time to make hot chocolate and dream about a mug brownie.”

This, after another sister (shush, I have three) had been extolling the virtues of the mug brownie just two days earlier, commenting “oh my damn, YUM. i can’t even.”

Well, it was Chiberia Round Two outside, I’d been working from home, and sheesh why not. Mug brownie it is!

Here’s all it takes to make your very own (original recipe found here):
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 dash salt
4 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tbsp. flour


I got a really big mug, because that seemed like a lot of tablespoons and I didn’t know how much the brownie would expand in the microwave. I melted the butter IN the mug, because why not. Assuming your pipes aren’t frozen, add the water. Also add the vanilla and salt, then stir. (I just kinda swirled it around a bit.)

Add sugar, stir. Add cocoa, stir.

Here’s where things went Not As I’d Expected.

This is supposed to be a ridiculously easy recipe, for lazy people (or simply for folks who don’t want a whole damn pan of brownies), right? So why can’t I seem to get this stuff to mix together? The cocoa seemed determined to stick together in dry little clumps.

 OMG this cocoa isn’t mixing in! I thought. What am I doing wrong? *stirstirstir* It’s still not working! *stirstirstirAnd the butter is cooling… *stirstirstir* …getting thicker, I don’t think I want that to happen, do I? *stirstirstir* My first attempt at one of the stupidest recipes in the universe, and I’m fscking it up!

Yes, I was standing in my kitchen with a rather large Dr. Seuss mug full of goop, worrying that I’d messed up my lazy brownie somehow by following directions.

Sister #2 had already gone to put the kids to bed, and  #4 (shush, we’re numbered by birth order) was not online, so rather than worrying enough to turn to a foolish Googling I just kept stirring in the hope that More Is Better. I did consider busting out my tiny, whisk, but I think part of the whole brownie-in-a-mug thing is that you don’t need to wash a bunch of stuff afterward. And eventually I just called it good enough and added the flour. *stirstirstir*

brownie batter in a mug with a spoon

Well, that looks a lot more like brownie batter!

Put it in the microwave for 60-90 seconds. Remove the spoon first. Lick the spoon, because that’s what you’re SUPPOSED to do with brownie batter!

And TADA! Brownie in a mug!

mug brownie, "baked"

AFTERWORD: I posted my gleeful conquest and acquisition of a mug brownie to Facebook, because that’s what you do. Sister #4 immediately recommended adding ice cream to the mix. Holy foo, thought I, that sounds fantastic!

Off I trot (all three feet) to the freezer and pull out the vanilla ice cream I know is in there. Open it up, and some jerk has started a crystal farm in there. Freezer burn that looked like some particularly fancy seaweed had sprouted all over my delicious French Vanilla.** NOOOOOOOOO! *shakes fist to the sky*

But wait! What’s this tiny cup still in my freezer? Why, it’s a leftover boozy pudding from my NYE/birthday party, courtesy of Jamie! I don’t know what all she puts in these things other than chocolate pudding and so much booze that they need to be kept in the freezer so they don’t dissolve into their component parts, but sweet baby jeebus they made the mug brownie even more fantastic than I’d ever imagined.

So yes, chocolate pudding also makes brownies delicious. And booze.

** I also posted a photo of my tragically freezer-burned ice cream, to which a friend replied that it reminded her of a recurring childhood dream in which a tiny wizard and freezer-burned ice cream played significant roles. “The tiny wizard looked gentle…all silver-star-spangled blue coat and pointy hat…but I knew he was evil. He was the cause of the freezer burn in the ice cream (or perhaps ice milk) that I found in Mr. Rogers’ freezer.”

So then, uh, this happened:

tiny knitted wizard Photoshopped onto freezer-burned ice cream

…I am not proud. But I have Photoshop!

(all photos by me. Tiny wizard from Mochimochi Land. Yay!)


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Beth Voigt

Beth Voigt

Beth is a graphic designer in Chicago, a superhero in her own mind, and absolutely nothing on TV. She wrangles fonts professionally, pummels code amateurishly, and has been known to shove fire in her face for fun. Fond of volunteering, late-night bursts of productivity, and making snacks, she dislikes grocery shopping and public transit and is still on her first smartphone. Her opinion is that you should try everything twice; if you don't like it, you were probably doing it wrong the first time around.


  1. January 30, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    I find mug cake a bit dry, so I usually soak a bit of Irish cream liqueur into it. Because why not.

  2. January 30, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    Looks yummy. =) FYI, I covered why cocoa clumps and how to get around it here:

  3. January 31, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Well I guess I’ll be making / eating this forever from now on.

  4. January 31, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Oh, and sister #4 also mentioned that she has successfully swapped out the butter for oil. I don’t remember if she specified which kind, but that sort of substitution has been confirmed to be successful.

  5. February 1, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I made my mug brownie in a bowl, because I’m a rebel.

  6. February 1, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I love all your mugs. And Steve’s bowl.

    Amy #1

  7. February 2, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    So when will there be a boozy pudding kitchen lab? I will send you the recipe!

  8. February 3, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    AS SOON AS YOU SEND IT (and I have acquired the aforementioned requisite booze)

  9. February 3, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    CHECK YOUR EMAIL!! Boozy pudding for EVERYONE!!

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