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Archive for September 29, 2017

RECIPE: Coffee Cake Mug Cake & The History Of Mug Cakes

Mug Cakes Cookbook
[1] Get a book on mug cakes, and have an almost-instant cake fix whenever you need one (photo courtesy St. Martin’s Press).

Coffeecake Mug Cake

Coffee Cake Mug Cake
[2] and [3] Coffeecake Mug Cake from Ava’s Bakery.

Cup Of Coffee

[4] While the cake bakes, make a cup of coffee (photo Sxpng | Canstock ).


Mug cakes have been around for a while. They’re a handy solution when you’re jonesing for a piece of cake. Simply combine some basic ingredients in a coffee mug and microwave for 2 or 3 minutes.

Yet, a survey among our cake-loving friends and colleagues indicates that few of us make mug cakes. So today, National Coffee Day, we’re encouraging the practice with the Mug Coffee Cake recipe below.

If you like mug cakes as much as we do, there are several mug cake cookbooks. Start with Mug Cakes: 100 Speedy Microwave Treats to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth (photo #1).

While unleavened cakes date back to ancient Egypt, most were savory cakes, some garnished with honey. Without leavening, they did not rise.

It took another few millennia, until the 18th century, for bakers to discover the technique of whipping eggs to make cakes rise. While it required many hours of beating, the wealthy had enough labor in the kitchen. These unsung bakers heralded the dawn of modern baking.

By the 1840s, baking soda had been invented, followed by baking powder in the 1860s (the difference). These chemical leavening agents meant that most cooks could make a cake rise.

With cakes came cupcakes. The original cupcakes were baked in coffee cups; hence the name. They were actually mini “test cakes,” to test the heat of the oven.

From the prehistoric dawn of the oven to the latter half of the 19th century, there were no thermostats to regulate the temperature of the oven, which was fueled by a wood or charcoal fire. Delicate cooking like baking required great technique (the history of ovens).

In 1851, the Bower’s Registered Gas Stove debuted at the Great Exhibition in London, featuring a revolution: a thermostat. It became the basis for the modern gas oven.

As ovens with regulated temperatures became available, and sugar became affordable to most people, more home cooks were able to bake to their hearts’ content. This resulted in more creativity in recipe development. The modern cake as we know it began to take shape in the mid-19th century.

Finally, The Microwave!

The next great leap forward, the consumer microwave oven, was launched in 1967. But it took another 50 years or so to popularize a microwaved cake-in-a-mug. Finally, in the Information Age, it quickly gained popularity via online cooking forums.

The technique uses a mug as the cooking vessel and takes just a few minutes to toss the ingredients into the mug: flour, sugar, baking powder, seasonings and fats (butter, cream, oil). The mug goes into the microwave; as the fat in the mixture heats up, it creates air pockets that cause the cake to quickly rise.

Here’s a fun idea for National Coffee Day: a coffee mug cake filled with coffee cake (photos #2 and #3).

If that sounds like too much of a tongue twister, let us explain:

Ava’s Cupcakes, a winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, has created a tongue-in-cheek cake for National Coffee Day. It’s a mug cake—made in a coffee mug. And that’s a streusel-topped coffee cake in that mug.

You’ll also need a separate mug of coffee to drink with the mug cake (photo #4)…but what a memorable coffee break!

If you’re in the neighborhood, Ava’s Bakery has a retail bakery in Rockaway, New Jersey. If not, there’s a large selection of products available online at

Ingredients For The Cake

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • Dash of salt
    For The Crumb Topping

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Optional garnish: powdered sugar, ice cream or whipped cream

    1. SOFTEN the butter. Place the sugar in the mug, add the butter and combine. Add cream, vanilla and cinnamon, and stir.

    2. MIX the flour, salt and baking powder together in a separate bowl, and add to the cup. Blend.

    3. MAKE the topping: Soften the butter, add flour, cinnamon and brown sugar, and mix until crumbly. Crumble the top onto flour mixture, patting down gently.

    4. MICROWAVE for 2 minutes, let cool for 1 minute. Garnish as desired and consume!



    RECIPE: Caramelized Onions and Lentil Rice

    We love caramelized onions as a topping on so many foods: eggs, baked potatoes, burgers, sandwiches, grilled meats and fish, grains…

    Our biggest problem when we make caramelized onions is what we call the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Confrontation:

    We can’t stop eating the raw dough in the bowl—or the onions in the pan—such that we end up with a fraction of the finished recipe.

    We never overlook an opportunity to make caramelized onions. So when we received the following recipe from Chef Ingrid Hoffmann—which tops lentil rice with caramelized onions—we leapt from computer to kitchen.

    You can substitute beans for the lentils, for a caramlized onion spin on rice and beans.


    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 35 minutes.
    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 can (15.5-ounces) lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

    1. MELT the butter with the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, sugar and some salt and pepper. Cook until the onions become deep brown and sticky, about 20 minutes, stirring every 4 or 5 minutes. If the onions color too quickly, reduce the heat to medium-low. While the onions caramelize…

    2. MAKE the rice. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/caramelized onions lentil rice ingridhoffmannFB 230
    [1] Rice and lentils topped with caramelized onions (photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffman | Food Network).

    Eden Organic Lentils

    [2] We like the flavor of Eden Organic Lentils, which are cooked with onion and bay leaf (photo courtesy Eden Foods).

    3. ADD the rice and stir, cooking it until the grains begin to turn opaque, about 2 minutes. Add the water, lentils and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.

    4. REDUCE the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid, about 20 minutes. Serve topped with the caramelized onions.



    FOOD FUN: Collectible Tequila Cazadores Bottle

    Mr. Cartoon Cazadores Tequila
    [1] Tequila Cazadores’s limited-edition Mr. Cartoon bottle for El Día de los Muertos (photo courtesy Tequila Cazadores).

    Mister Cartoon Skull Bandana

    [2] 100% of proceeds from bandana sales go to Topos México earthquake disaster relief (photo courtesy Mister Cartoon).


    Get ready to add this bottle of tequila to your collection, and to stock up for holiday gifting for Halloween, El Día de los Muertos and Christmas.

    Mexican-American artist Mister Cartoon, has created the art for this limited edition bottle of Tequila Cazadores blanco.

    It celebrates El Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead), a traditional Mexican holiday. The skull illustration honors the memories of lost loved ones.

    Since pre-Colombian times, Aztecs and the Mexicans who followed have celebrated El Día de los Muertos, a ritual in which the living remember their departed relatives.

    The holiday starts the evening of October 31st through November 2nd (see more below).

    To commemorate the release, the artist has also created a set of skull bandanas (photo #2), from which 100% of proceeds of sales will go towards disaster relief in Mexico.

    Celebrated for thousands of years, this Aztec holiday was originally a month-long festival called Mictecacihuatl, The Lady of The Dead.

    When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century and imposed their Catholic religion, the celebration became joined with All Saints Day, November 1st, and and All Souls Day, November 2nd.

    The celebration begins the evening before, October 31st—coincidentally, the Irish-American celebration of All Hallows Eve, Halloween. While people fear the Halloween spirits of the dead, El Día de los Muertos honors the deceased.

  • On November 1st the souls of children that have passed away, known as Día de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) or Día de los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels). .
  • On November 2nd, the adult souls arrive.
    Graves of the deceased are visited decorated, and families expect a visit from the spirits of loved ones who have passed.

    Celebrants create brightly-colored home altars honoring these family members. They are decorated with ofrendas (offerings), gifts for the dead: candles, sugar skulls (calaveritas), flowers, food and drink, photos, even items of the deceased’s clothing or a child’s toy.

    The altar has mixed imagery of both indigenous origin and Catholic influences. It is not an altar of worship but of honor, to welcome the returning spirits to their homes. Here’s more about it.

    The skull imagery dates to the Aztecs, who kept skulls as trophies and used them during rituals.



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