I try to be semi-moderate when it comes to microwaves. That is, I intuitively don’t like them and rarely use them (not only because I really wonder about the dangers of the radiation and the seemingly credible non-industry studies that show microwaved food to be harmful), but because I just don’t think they cook things very nicely. (Ever tried a microwaved “baked” potato? Def not the same.)
But I also try not to be That Person—you know, the one who refuses to eat the microwave-warmed food at the organic deli or at someone’s birthday party. Even though there are lots of things I will refuse to eat.
I never bothered to buy one, so I didn’t have one for almost my whole adult life; now, my house of one year has one built in (you can’t get a house without one, it seems!), so there it is. And since it’s there…I’ll pop an occasional Amy’s Kitchen entrée in it, on that rare night when I really think I just can’t cook a meal, and I’m too hungry to wait 45 minutes for the conventional oven to bake it. I might warm an occasional tortilla or burrito in it. But I’m rarely in that much of a hurry, and to my mind there’s not a lot that does better than a stovetop.
Then I discovered “microwave baking.” A contradiction in terms, you say? That was my response too, but the more food blogs and recipe sites I perused, the more I saw these funny little culinary oxymorons. Most of the authors share some version of the lament about those nights when you’re jonesing for a cookie or brownie or piece of cake so bad, but it seems ridic to bake a whole batch just so you can have a bite or two. Apparently such nights have birthed many a desperate cookie experiment.
So yeah, that happens to me too. I often stand in the cookie aisle at Whole Foods and think “I would really like just ONE of those. Just one.” I’m a big “just one” eater. I just don’t need an entire package of cookies around. But who bakes one cookie or brownie?
And since it takes a mere 45 seconds of heating to get an actual cookie or brownie, I don’t feel so bad about what I might be doing to the food or to humans in the vicinity. It’s an indulgence—the sweet treat AND the use of the ‘wave.
All over the Internet, there are kajillions of single-serving cookie, brownie, and cake recipes. (Cake in a mug is very big right now.) Many look intriguing and tempting, but my usual issue with most of them is that they just have too much sugar for my tastes or my intentions.
So I tend to start with some of the recipes and experiment until they are sweet enough to actually taste like a cookie or brownie, but low in sugar enough to feel pretty virtuous. If you’re not as concerned about this as I am, and want more sweet, you can Google around and find some of these kajillion microwave cookie and brownie recipes, and take them as they are.
But if you like to temper your sweet tooth with the bare minimum of sugar, here is my perfected super-low-sugar (yet very chocolately and satisfying) single-serving brownie (actually it makes two small ramekin brownies). It’s vegan and can be gluten-free.
Chocolatey Low-Sugar Vegan Microwave Brownie
- 4 T flour (I mix buckwheat flour and almond flour, or buckwheat and spelt, but any flour should do, and whole-wheat pastry flour will probably be fluffier)
- 2.5 T dark, unsweetened organic cacao powder
- 3 tsp sugar* (I recommend date sugar, but you can try coconut sugar, my other pref, or whatever your poison)
- 2 tsp walnut oil or pistachio oil (gives a more delicate flavor than ordinary vegetable oils) (make this 3-4 tsp for a moister brownie; you can use butter, too, but I prefer to keep this vegan)
- 2 T nut milk of your choice (I like coconut)
- ¼ tsp vanilla
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1-2 T organic dark chocolate chips
- splash of water if needed to moisten batter more
WHAT TO DO
- Sift dry ingredients. Make a well in middle. Add wet ingredients. Mix.
- Add splash water if needed to moisten. Stir just enough to blend.
- Press mixture into lightly oiled ramekins.
- Top with chocolate chips if desired.
- Microwave for 45-70 seconds depending on ‘wave. Mine are perfect in 60.
Top with your favorite frozen dessert or eat plain, warm and gooey.
Also great wrapped and refrigerated for next-day on-the-go snack.
An awesome variation is to mix a few fresh raspberries into the mix.
Also optional: drizzle honey or maple syrup over top.
*Yep, that’s compared to 3-4 TABLESPOONS in many similar recipes; you can up it if not sweet enough for you. That’s the beauty of these recipes; they’re so malleable.
One way to make it a tiny bit sweeter to is to drizzle a little honey or maple syrup over the TOP before you “bake”; this will add a hint more sweetness without adding a ton more sugar. If you’ve baked already, and find it just too un-sweet for you, similar drizzling can “save” the end result!
I use more cocoa powder than most such recipes call for (and better cocoa too; many online call for Hershey’s ::shudder:::) and of course, all organically produced ingredients. (Which are very probably being toxically maimed and destroyed as the microwave rips apart the molecules, but hey. It’s a once-in-a-while thing. This is me living dangerously!)
NOTE: to eschew the use of the microwave, I am quite sure this same batter would produce a similar result if you want to turn on the oven and wait (I’d guess 350˚ at 15 mins or so.) I plan to try baking these that way…in the fall and winter. Just not in a Southwestern summer. Will report!
And of course, you could scale up this recipe for when you DO want a large batch to share with family and company!