I’ve been doing a low carb thing for a year. It worked. Thank God I love BBQ and cole slaw. But, I have an unhealthy relationship with dieting in that I mostly see it as a means to make some room in my jeans so that I can start eating all the bad things again.
Clearly, I love to bake. So now that I’ve let myself back into the kitchen I’ve worked my way through many of my favorites. But the problem with baking for four people is that there is inevitably a half of a whatever left the next morning singing a siren song to me about how good it would be with coffee. Ditto for cookies. Even when I freeze the dough, you can find me sneaking into the freezer cutting off a bit of frozen raw dough for a little treat. Some desserts need to be wholly consumable, and not in a completely destructive way, in one evening. Sometimes one just needs, deserves, a sweet and decadent finish line for the day. One might even share it with a friend. But one ought not always have to put in huge amounts of effort, ingredients, or a week’s worth of guilt over pummeling an entire sheet cake or pan of brownies.
Thus, I started exploring the notion of a Tablespoon Cake, a truly delicious dessert that is reasonable enough in size that all of the ingredients could be measured with a standard set of measuring spoons. I decided it also, therefore, needed to call for precisely one egg, as I think dividing eggs is for the birds. The rules of the game also required the use of no other mixing bowl than a standard cereal bowl, and no fussy egg white whipping or creaming of butter. Extra points for being perfect warm with vanilla ice cream. No icing. No cooling. No saving. I was looking for a small, shareable, pig-out. This is what I came up with. I consider this a two person dessert.
Is is perfect? No. Is it ground-breaking? No. Is it high art? No.
And a tip. A tablespoon is 3 teaspoons. So when I say 5.5 Tablespoons, you can either ball park it, or you can use 5 Tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon and ½ teaspoon. It is easy if you keep all your measuring spoons on the little ring. Simple switcheroo. I might just be good at guessing, or this might just be a forgiving recipe, but I’ve done it both ways and the precision isn’t strictly necessary.
While I’m at it, let me just say that part of my desire to get to the bottom of this is the proliferation of oh so Pinterest worthy recipes for microwavable “cake in a mug” recipes. I hate them. One should not mess with desperate folks. I can be a little desperate when I haven’t had sugar for a month. On a few of the evenings when I hadn’t fully committed to a true back-slide on my diet I thought, “Golly, wouldn’t it be nice if those recipes were as good as they look and as miraculous as they are made to sound?” I didn’t really say “golly” but I hope you are catching a whiff of the sort of moronic innocence and desire that makes one throw out all of their hard earned knowledge to try something that is facially dubious and scientifically unlikely. I suppose there are some of those recipes in existence that don’t merit this scorn, but I didn’t find one. I even made a “cinnamon roll in a cup” recipe at the end of my experimentation that was so foul that I ate one bite and threw the rest out. I will suffer through a serving of just about anything sweet, but this sticky vulcanized rubber was comically bad. And it made me a little angry, too. Because, I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that it was not going to work when I looked at the ingredients. And I double knew that it wasn’t going to work in a microwave. But I tried it anyway because I needed a sweet. That stupid recipe was shared about 8 million times. And it was beyond gross. Far, far, far beyond gross.
I remember clearly the economics lecture thirty years ago when my professor said, and I heard for the first time, the adage that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And shortcut recipes on baking almost always follow this logic.
But this little cake isn’t a short-cut. This is a shrinking. You will still have to wait 25 to 27 minutes for the little bugger to bake, but the prep time is nothing. So, give this a shot some night when you just need a decadent little pig out that you can forget you engaged in the next day. It is a one night stand dessert. It is a reward for a life lived busily, or a reward for a day finally spent reading a book. Only you can decide when and why you need to do something nice for yourself. And unlike a microwaveable cake in a mug, you won’t feel like you’ve been had. At least not in a bad way. Let me know what you think.
I used a large two cup capacity Ramekin for this but you can also split it into two eight ounce short canning jars or small ramekins for baking…just remember to bake the smaller cakes about ten minutes less than the single ramekin. Use what you like, as I know this is not a standard baking dish size. Just be attuned to cooking times. When you remove the cake from the oven it should no longer be jiggly or wet on top, but a toothpick inserted in the middle will still come out a bit sticky. If the toothpick is clean, you may have over-baked.
|Tablespoon Chocolate Cake|| |
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 5½ Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1½ Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
- 3 Tablespoons Cocoa
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 large egg
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave oven.
- In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
- Add the melted butter to the dry ingredients and whisk to thoroughly combine.
- Add the egg and vanilla to the batter and whisk to thoroughly combine.
- Spray a 16 ounce ramekin with nonstick cooking spray and pour in the batter.
- Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out just sticky.
I bet some of you were surprised to see a post. They have gotten a bit rare, I know. But life is all about stages and changes. I have begun to use PIE like my electronic family recipe book. It is an e-version of an old wooden decoupaged recipe card box, containing memories and family stories and treasured formulas. I cook from this website constantly. Chili, cornbread, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, meatloaf, spice mixes, soups.
So I don’t feel like I’ve been as remiss in posting as I have been. However, now and again I make something and work on it several times and know I need to post it on this website because if I don’t I will surely lose the sticky note that I scribbled it on. And if it is a recipe that I really love, given the high likelihood of loss in all the to-ing and fro-ing of my existence, it must be saved here so I can keep making it. That is how this recipe got here today.
I need this one to be here, because I will come back for it over and over. I often wonder if I went back through all the recipes since 2010 and whittled out the ones that don’t mean something to me, how many I would have remaining. I don’t know. It is an interesting mental exercise. But, this one I would keep. It is a perfect little tribute to the crazy wonderful life I’m leading right now. I don’t have time to entertain large groups. I’m not living the slow, captive days of motherhood with small kids where cooking was a creative outlet that I couldn’t have survived without. Those little tots are giant now. My daughter is a freshman! My son is starting 7th grade and we are homeschooling together again this year. That experiment, which seemed like the ultimate Hail Mary pass at the time has turned out to be a rich and fruitful few years. I don’t know how long we will do this, but for now, it is my full time job and we are more apt to make a sandwich together or go out for BBQ than for me to have hours to pass in the kitchen dreaming up a dish. All of my food magazine subscriptions have long ago run out. I need to do something about that, though. There is nothing like flipping through the recipes in Southern Living or Saveur to wake up your imagination and remind you that you like cooking.
But my point is that life changes and our kitchens change and adapt. More pizza sometimes. Fewer loaves of homemade bread. More fast. Less slow. Someday when the kids go off I’ll cook some master dish and use every pot in my kitchen over the course of six hours and it will be great…except that there will only be two of us here to eat it.
I’m giving my photography more time and just got accepted for a small show, and I’m thrilled. I finished a novel a few years back and put it on the proverbial back burner. I’m challenging myself to pick it back up and dust it off and give it a good talking to again. Then I may shove it aside to marinate again and begin something new. Writing is more fun than trying to get published, I can assure you. I’m doing lots of community service with the kids this summer and I’m still quite engaged with my beloved Foodways Texas.
I would like to go fishing more. I just want to drive out a bit, and drop a line and daydream about the sound of the water against the boat. I might even finally try my grandpa Floyd’s fish batter recipe which I now have in my hot little hands. I kayaked with my son and my brother down four miles or so of the Red River last week. I want to do that again soon. I’ll put that ahead of creating a new dish any day. At forty-six, I’m learning to ride a dirt bike. Slowly. I planted peach trees a few years back and this year I actually got a decent batch of the sweetest most delectable peaches I’ve ever tasted.
Sometimes you make the wave and sometimes you surf. I’ve been surfing along on whatever type of wave has come my way. There have been some wipe-outs and there have been some successes. And it has all been pretty great.
I hope you are all well and happy. I’ll be around and about, now and again. Thanks for visiting.