Cracking the Code

The notion of a baking a cake in the microwave intrigues me, especially a small, well textured one with plenty of character.  When I’m particularly in need of a little personal indulgence, I imagine myself effortlessly whipping up such a treat. Yes, I picture myself savoring this single serving of sweet blisswarm from the oven. No muss, no fuss.  
I’ve considered many recipes but tend to pass on most because even with glowing comments, I suspect they aren’t worth the minimal effort required.  Fact is, baking is complicated. It is based on scientific principles which use heat to modify the structure of food, and the power of the microwave can really mess it up.    

Heavy duty lava cakes are very popular, but most are saturated with chocolate and butter.  Recently I tried a promising chocolate chip cookie-dough cake which suggested a tempting interplay of vanilla, and salt with gooey chocolate.  Despite the inclusion of one whole egg, standard in most of these recipes, it was still disappointingly dry and dull.  

Today, with carrots on my mind, I tried again.  I’m thinking there’s no reason why my luxurious treat can’t have some beneficial qualities, too.   Not only are carrots sweet and tasty, they can also replace the butter or eggs that supply critical moisture lost during the microwave baking process. Plus, their healthy contributions may offset any looming guilt.  

To pull it all together, I blend a splash of orange juice, a dash of fresh ginger, vanilla, and milk with cinnamon-laced whole wheat flour, and quickly fold in the grated carrots.  In no time the batter is ready for its personal baking cup.

Into the microwave it goes. As if watching time lapse photography, within seconds a burnished orange cake shoots up and mushrooms over the cup, threatening to overflow! 


But, it doesn’t.  With steely nerves and sticky fingers I press the top every few seconds to test for firmness.  When the center is barely set I quickly remove it from its cup to stop the cooking process.  I’m not taking any chances!

 
For a final flurry, while the carrot cake is still hot, I spoon a dollop of marshmallow cream over the top and watch it melt as it oozes down the sides.  Comforting and “gooey”. 

 


Dizzying pockets of white chocolate chunks add another element of surprise and decadence. So much for quick treats―it disappears almost as fast as it bakeswith no regrets. 
 
Two-Minute Carrot Cake in a Cup
½ medium carrot grated, about 3 tbsp.
½ tsp grated fresh ginger
3 Tbsp whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp brown sugar
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
pinch salt
pinch cinnamon
2 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp canola or olive oil
½ tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp white chocolate chips or golden raisins, plumped
Optional:  marshmallow cream or ice cream
  1. Spray with oil or line a microwaveable mug or cup with plastic wrap.
  2.  In a small bowl, combine the flour through the cinnamon.  Separately combine the juice through the vanilla and add it to the dry ingredients.  Stir in the carrots and ginger, and add the chocolate chips.
  3. Spoon into mug or cup.
  4. Set microwave for 2 minutes.  At one minute, check the top for doneness. It is baked when the center is no longer gooey but still sticky on top. Return and check every 20-30 seconds until done.  Don’t over bake; it will continue cooking once removed.   
  5. Serve in mug or remove with plastic wrap and turn out onto plate.  If desired drape with marshmallow cream or serve with vanilla ice cream.  Yield:  1 glorious serving.
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