This recipe is clearly the kitchen version of a neat parlor trick. While paging through the Spring 2012 issue of Lucky Peach (David Chang's quarterly magazine focused on what can best be described as "esoteric" culinary matters), I found an article detailing the history of the now-ubiquitous chocolate lava cake. The cake's history is interesting in and of itself; however, the most intriguing item is a recipe for two-minute chocolate mug cake found at the end of the article. Surely this must be a joke, I thought - you can't possibly take simple baking ingredients and make a decent gooey chocolate cake using a coffee mug and a microwave. Of course, I had to take it upon myself to try it out just so I could be proven right. As it turns out, I was NOT right. While it may not have been the best chocolate cake I've ever eaten, it was still surprisingly good given its, well, redneck upbringing. Mrs. Hackknife concurred that this dessert belongs in the section of the Commissary cookbook "Desserts to make when you're harried and desperate" alongside the instant chocolate fondue (sugar, cream, and chocolate chips, in case you were curious).
Chang and Co. slightly edited the recipe from its first form, whose origins are murky (according to the article, it began circulating around the Internet in 2009). The only technique modification I would recommend would be mixing the batter up in a small bowl prior to placing it in the mug for microwaving (my cake ended up a little eggy in places, reminding me of French toast, I suspect due to insufficient mixing of ingredients), although that might take some of the fun out of it.
3 T milk
3 T neutral oil
3 T flour
4 T sugar
2 T cocoa powder
3 T semi-sweet chocolate chips
small splash vanilla extract
1 small or medium coffee mug (microwave safe)
Add wet ingredients (including egg) to mug and mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix well again. Add chocolate chips and vanilla, mixing well once more. Put mug into a 1000-watt microwave for 2 minutes. The cake may rise over the top of the mug (don't be alarmed). Allow to cool and tip out onto a plate if desired.