The Ultimate Gooey Caramel Brownie Mug Cake Sundae
Thanks to Werther’s Original® for sponsoring this recipe post!
I secretly love making resolutions at New Year’s. Really, I love resolutions all the time. I love GOALS! They make everything seem so clear, concrete, focused. You know that feeling when you get to check tasks off your to-do list as you complete them? Every check is so satisfying — even if it’s just the first item (and even if that item happened to be, “Make a to-do list.” You know you do that, too!)
I even love all the little logistical details that come along with goals. I love tracking progress, measuring my advances in various ways, keeping track of data, adjusting my efforts based on data. Oh man. I just get this nerdy thrill out of it. It’s the same nerdy thrill I get in an office supply store. You guys get that, right? Tell me you get that, please.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I think it’s part of what makes me an effective teacher and part of what helps me grow as a person. I also think the resolutions and goals we set for ourselves can become a distraction — a way of procrastinating on the real, hard, nebulous work we need to do.
I bet you know what I mean. Do you ever clean your kitchen to avoid doing the laundry? Dust your bookshelves to avoid going to the store? Plenty of otherwise productive things can be used to avoid our real needs. I sometimes tell my students, “Don’t ‘study’ to procrastinate from studying. Don’t ‘read over your notes’ when you know you should be doing math problems to really understand concepts. Don’t spend an hour making pretty flashcards when you know you should be quizzing yourself for most of that hour. Don’t lie to yourself.”
Goals are fun because we can tell ourselves to eat fewer sweets when we really need to find a way to love ourselves, to change our whole outlook and lifestyle. We can tell ourselves to read a certain number of Bible chapters a day when we really need to make time to commune with God again — that quiet space where we sit with Him in humility and openness. We can tell ourselves to spend less money when we really need to examine our priorities, look at our possessions with new eyes, and change how we value things.
Don’t get me wrong. Eat fewer sweets (uh, start after this mug cake, though. Trust me.) Read the Bible. Spend less money. Those are all great goals if they’re right for you. But also value yourself enough to be vulnerable to big, real changes in your perspective. What’s been knocking on the door to your heart or conscience lately? Let it in and listen.
Here are some things I’ve been considering resolving:
1. Practice mindfulness: sit with feelings for longer, observing them and seeking to understand them fully before reacting to them. To accomplish this, I can picture myself going outside more each day, observing my surroundings more than I do now, talking less than I do now. I imagine more baths, more music, and more time spent throwing my dog’s rubber squeaky toy. Just being where I am.
2. Start living a more humane life. I want to think about the food and other items I buy and how they affect the environment. I especially care that the food I’ve purchased for so long has caused undue suffering to animals. While avoiding any perfectionism or obsession, I want to make better choices, buying meat and produce from places I trust. It might hit me in the pocketbook, but I’ll pay more to know I haven’t participated in unethical practices.
3. Listen with a totally open heart to God. This means being willing to abandon doctrine I’ve grown up with my entire life if it conflicts with what I know about freedom in — and willing service to — Christ. This is something that’s been in the works in my heart for years, and indeed, this past year I feel like I’ve made great strides. Christ didn’t die so I’d follow a set of rules and it hurts real people — real souls — if we as a Church keep pretending like He did. I’m sure I’ll write more on this in coming posts. It’s weighing on my mind.
I can’t decide if those goals are distractions or if they’re the real life work I need to do this coming year, but either way, they’re a good start for me. I’m hoping for more discernment as the year unfolds. I also want to break down this year’s goals (whatever I end up settling on!) into a few things I can do monthly (I got this idea from the unsteady), so I can keep track of my progress and make sure my goals are meaningful. Oh, is my nerd showing again? Lemme just tuck that back in and move on to the cake!
OH BOY, what a cake! Imagine you’re home in your jammies and a dessert craving hits. You could just have a bowl of vanilla ice cream. You could have a handful of chocolate chips. OR YOU COULD GATHER UP A FEW THINGS FROM YOUR PANTRY AND HAVE THIS CHOCOLATE MONSTROSITY.
I made this one for Mike in just a few minutes, snapped some photos (which involved Mike drizzling chocolate while I said, “More. More. A little more. Still more.”), and bam! he was digging in to a decadent dessert à la mode.
What are you considering for your New Year’s resolution?
One year ago: Spiced Crispies (Chivda, or Indian Snack Mix)
Two years ago: Brown Butter Cookie Dough Pretzel Bars
Three years ago: Magic Bars
Four years ago: Taco Stuffed Crescent Rolls
The Ultimate Gooey Caramel Brownie Mug Cake Sundae
Recipe by: Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Yield: 1 mug cake
I took an already-great mug cake from one of my faves, America’s Test Kitchen, and pumped it up! I added some espresso to deepen the chocolate flavor and a slew of my favorite toppings from my pantry to create a dessert as decadent as one it takes hours to make. Throw this together at home when you want a special dessert but don’t want to get out of your jammies!
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chocolate chips (half bittersweet and half semisweet)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 square of your favorite dark chocolate bar
3 Werther’s Original® Baking Caramels
2 teaspoons milk
melted chocolate chips
vanilla bean ice cream or gelato
crushed toasted nuts
*NOTE: I used a big espresso mug for this cake, but you can use any regular size coffee mug that’s microwave safe. Different microwaves may require different cooking times, but your finished cake should look set up but very moist.
Place butter and chocolate chips in a coffee mug and heat on half power for 15 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until melted (about 45 seconds total). In a separate small bowl or ramekin, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate small bowl or ramekin, whisk together the egg, vanilla extract, and espresso powder. When the chocolate is melted in your mug, stir in sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in the egg mixture. Stir in the flour mixture. Stir well to eliminate lumps.
Microwave the mug on half power for 30 seconds (I set mine on a plate just in case there’s spillover). Stir. Microwave on half power for 35 seconds (the cake will rise over the top of your mug like a giant soufflé, but stay calm.) Press the square of chocolate bar down into the center of the cake (I broke mine into two pieces), being careful not to burn your fingers. Microwave on half power for 40 seconds. Let the cake cool in the mug for 2 minutes while you prepare your toppings.
Melt the chocolate chips by heating on half power for 20 second intervals, stirring between each, until melty. Melt the Werther’s Original® Baking Caramels by placing them in a small bowl with the milk. Heat on 30 second intervals, stirring carefully between each, until melty. Top your mug cake with a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, crushed toasted pecans, a crushed cookie (I used a Biscoff cookie), and the kitchen sink. Just kidding about the sink. Enjoy!