food geek chocolate cake

The hardest part of monthly guest posts at Blog of Funny Names is coming up with that funny name. Committing to a food-related name helps narrow the field, but I’m never sure where to look for a name that is fun, fresh, interesting, relevant, and unique enough to be considered “funny.”

Googling always saves the day, but I still need a direction in which to head. This month I got that direction from a small inner voice whispering, “molecular gastronomy.” [While hearing small voices might qualify me for professional help, your reading this might qualify you for the same so we’re in this together. Stay with me? Please?]

So. Searching “molecular gastronomy” was exactly what I needed to do and we all benefit because 1) I found an amazing man named HervΓ© This, whom I now admire greatly and 2) I thought I’d try a bit of kitcheny science over here as well.

Those kitcheny science results are as laughable as they are delicious and we’ll move on to them as soon as I can convince you to hop over and learn a bit more about HervΓ©. Click here, then please return for a doozy of a chocolate cake experiment.


Back for cake? Very good, then. Learning about Monsieur This inspired me to find a recipe I remembered seeing on Foodography, a favorite Cooking Channel show. Self-proclaimed food nerd Jeff Potter demonstrated a microwave chocolate cake leavened only by N2O gasses in the cream whipper that dispensed the batter.

Long a cream whipper fan, I’ve used mine only to whip cream and branching out sounded like fun. A cake leavened with nitrous oxide instead of chemicals–kitchen science indeed.

ready to rock

ready to rock

Though the recipe threw me a bit: Four ounces chocolate, four eggs, plus smaller amounts of flour and sugar. This sounded like multiple servings, but best I could understand, it all went into one glass. Mention of only filling the “pan” two-thirds full should have been my clue, but after studying the recipe closely, I saw no mention of anything more than one serving. I filled that mug to the top. (also added a dollop of marshmallow fluff after half-filling with batter per recipe suggestion)

batter in place

batter in place





ready for the microwave

ready for the microwave

The first 30 seconds in the microwave didn’t “bake” the batter through, so I added four more 30-second intervals. And by the first minute, the batter was up and over the side of the mug. For sure this recipe is meant to serve four and shame on me for not getting that.

no words for this

no words for this

Just the same, this offers opportunity to turn disaster into triumph. (It’s a game I often play called, “I meant to do it this way.”) The cake turned out nicely on a platter, a bit of gooeyness on the top (now the bottom) adding to its charm. Dusting with powdered sugar, as advised, crowned it in glory and it was happily ever after.

A side of ice cream or sweetened whipped cream and it's restaurant worthy.

Add a side of ice cream or sweetened whipped cream and it’s restaurant worthy.

No question the batter was meant to be divided evenly among four glasses. Though the numbers divide in half easily enough, making two servings an option as well.

While this was fun, and meeting HervΓ© was worth any amount of kitchen mess, my next microwave cake will be of the chemically leavened mug variety. Fortunately, another Liz–of Tip Top Shape–has me covered with her funfetti version.

I raise my future mug of Liz’s Funfetti Mug Cake to you all for spending time with me here and over at Blog of Funny Names. I look forward already to our next food adventure.

48 thoughts on “food geek chocolate cake

  1. I’ve been getting more interested in molecular gastronomy these days! What a fun and delicious experiment you pulled off πŸ˜€ I will have to look into getting a whipped cream dispenser now. Thanks for sharing this fun post, Liz!

    • Thanks, Ada. Love your enthusiasm πŸ˜€ Sounds like more than a few people are already on the molecular gastronomy bandwagon. I’m always amazed at what can be done, but never sure if I’d really want to eat it. Though the whipped cream dispenser? I’d say go for it as it’s MG as it’s finest and most delicious.

  2. I love this – for so many reasons. Your tie in to the BOFN blog post, your adventures in kitchen-y science and the refreshing admission of “It’s a game I often play called, β€œI meant to do it this way.” had me laughing out loud! You are like the kitchen girl version of Bill Nye the Science Guy this week. You think way outside any box and that’s awesome!

    We have little restaurant here in my city that opened up recently called: Cielito Lindo Mexican Gastronomy- I will think of you every time I pass by. I will try it in your honor!

    • Aww, Bonnie. You’re so generous with your praise πŸ™‚ Thanks! Figured you’d understand the “meant to do it this way” game. No sense throwing away good ingredients just because things didn’t go exactly as planned. Gotta be flexible!

      And please do tell me how the new Mexican restaurant plays out. Sounds tasty! Would love to hear more about it.

      • I will share my report as soon as I go, which I am now more motivated to do sooner rather than later! πŸ™‚ I applaud your ‘meant to do it this way – and make it look sooooo easy’ ways! πŸ™‚

  3. There you go tempting me with the chocolate. We love when you experiment and there’s chocolate involved. I’d probably turn it into two servings or even one!

  4. Love the post on funny names, especially that pic of the octopus lollipop things! I also suspect that I may have one of his books on my shelves. My husband is cookbook hoarder and the name seems eerily familiar. Hm…

    That aside, I love the cake pictures. I totally know the feeling when all of a sudden you realize you misinterpreted something in a recipe. But hey, if it tastes good, that’s all that really matters. And turned out on a plate, it looks pretty divine. I’d certainly help you eat one of those extra portions! =)

    • Ha! Love it that you might already have a This cookbook on your shelves. (or are you talking about the octopop guy?)

      Did you look at the cake recipe? I’m waiting to find where I missed where it said “4 servings.” It’s not atypical to find poorly written or misleading recipes online, but I’d have figured a major TV network to get it right. They just might need my recipe editing services πŸ˜‰

      Glad to have you here, J. Would gladly split a chocolate cake with you anytime.

  5. I loved your HervΓ© This post and then I most certainly DID come back for chocolate cake – there was never any doubt that I would! I know you “say” it went wrong and pictures might just back that statement up but in my books, as long as it’s not burnt beyond recognition it’s edible. And there’s nothing a bit of icing sugar can’t conceal πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, trixpin πŸ™‚ Yes to the chocolate cake. You’re right on that burning a recipe is really the only way to completely ruin something. Though if it’s savory, you could still call it Cajun and bring it to the table, haha. Here’s to the power of icing sugar!

  6. Hey, I’m in this post! Thanks for the shoutout, Food For Fun Liz πŸ˜€ I’m all for salvaging baking mishaps. One time I made these devil’s food cupcakes that just would not rise. I don’t know what I did, but they were all sunken in the middle. So…naturally I panicked (because I was bringing these somewhere) and thought I’d fill it with some quick ganache. I did not know how to actually make ganache back then adn figured I could just melt chocolate. That is not ganache, at all. And then I thought I’d put some M & Ms on top…all of which predictably sunk in the melted chocolate. It was such a hot mess. I popped it all in the freezer, prayed the chocolate would become solid again, and renamed them chocolate cups. Miracle of miracles, people loved them!

    • That is EXACTLY WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE, TTL, with the Chocolate Cups. You are brilliant πŸ™‚ No need to waste the ingredients and effort you’ve sunk into a project, so forging ahead is always recommended. Major points to you for creativity and thinking well in a crisis situation πŸ˜€

  7. Even the pic of the hot mess mug makes me want to get a spoon and dig around in it. You have a better attitude of using a situation as an opportunity than I do. I would have ranted and sobbed before dusting it with powdered sugar.

    • I don’t have time to rant and sob, Kerbey, as I’m too busy keeping up with your posting schedule πŸ˜‰

      But thanks–no one can fault me for attitude in the kitchen. Always willing to forge ahead. No kidding about a spoon and a hot mess mug. Underbaked cake with rivers of marshmallow fluff running through? It was lovely and would have been at home in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Remember that Indian palace that was made of chocolate and melted on the prince as he was sitting on his throne? The cake was like that. Sort of.

  8. I admire your ingenuity – the final product looks delicious! I’ve heard about these microwave mug cakes and have been curious to try one, but I don’t have a microwave. How was the texture?

    • P.S. I’m not going to lie…I want one of those octopops. πŸ™‚ I am a huge fan of molecular gastronomy, with the exception of the fact that most of the restaurants here are cost-prohibitive and making the stuff at home is time-prohibitive (and requires more cooking implements than I’ll ever have room for in my kitchen!)

      • Thanks πŸ™‚ Would you really eat the octopop? I think it looks like fun–and I do love octopus–but would it taste good?

        Agreed that MG is only found in high-end spots. And nope, usually can’t be tried at home. (though I do hope you have a cream whipper πŸ™‚ ) That said, I went to a Cooking and Physics seminar once and the demonstrator did things like mix a cocktail in a shaker and measured the temp along the way–showing something about ice and melt temps. Also emulsification by making mayo. So those are MG, too πŸ™‚

        Appreciate your comments very much. This mug cake is different than others as it contains no baking soda or powder. I’d add vanilla and salt to this one as the flavor was a bit flat. Texture was tight and dense–much like a flourless cake. It was excellent. And how much fun is it to make a single serving (what most mug cakes are) cake in a mug?

        • Not sure if it would taste good, but I’d definitely be willing to try. In my (admittedly limited) experience with molecular gastronomy foods, most of the stuff has been surprisingly delicious. I am guessing this is because it takes so painstakingly long to make most MG dishes that no one would bother going through the hassle a second time if it wasn’t worth it.
          Years ago my husband bought me a cookbook from Alinea, a restaurant here in Chicago that uses MG cooking methods. I remember that one of the dishes we had there was served on a pillow full of mace (the spice), so that the weight of the plate would cause the scent of mace to slowly waft upwards while you ate. I love the cheekiness of that. At another MG place called Moto, we had donut-shaped coffee served with a hot mug of liquid donut. So fun. πŸ™‚
          Anyhow, I digress…the recipes in the cookbook are hilariously involved – in fact, I don’t think there is a single dish in there that is less than several pages long (in very small print!). It was entertaining to read though – we used it as a coffee table book for years! πŸ™‚
          I do like the idea that cocktail mixing and emulsifying could be classified as MG cooking. I’ll definitely feel more highfaluting next time I make mayonnaise. πŸ˜‰
          I want to try that cake!

          • wow–color me impressed πŸ™‚ Agreed that the cheekiness of MG is one of its big draws. And of course it’s amazingly delicious when done well.Was thinking of the foams, tiny spots of infused this and that used to decorate plates, etc. And some of the deconstructed dishes I’ve seen. They can be prettier than they taste. But what you’re talking about? Liquid donuts? Donut-shaped coffee? Very cool. Must visit Chicago. Speaking of: My husband and I are planning 20th anniversary plans for this summer and thinking we’d like to hit the Kentucky Bourbon Fest in September. AND that we would drive and stop though Chicago for a bit of culture there. Would love any advice you have on where to stay and eat. Watch your email box!

          • I can definitely make some recommendations for places to stay and eat in Chicago (and would love to meet you too if it worked out)! Email me when you know your plans and we’ll talk!!

    • Disaster to triumph–yes. Would be much easier to start with the triumph, but apparently that’s not how I roll haha.

      I see Fannie has another installment. Have bookmarked it for a moment when I have more time. Looking forward πŸ™‚ Thanks for coming by.

    • Agreed that a chocolate failure is hard to achieve. Maybe if it were scorched and smoking in a hot pan. Or when you try to melt it and it seizes. But other than that–just grab a spoon and dig in πŸ™‚ Thanks, Mama!

    • mess can equal goodness, yes! Though it can also mean “mess” as in “both of my girl’s rooms are a mess.” Thanks for your kind words πŸ™‚

  9. Really nice experiment and must say a delicious one. not really well versed on molecular gastronomy, Dufresne’s restaurant has intrigued me but have never gone. Dessert though I can really get into. I can imagine the microwave after you finished. Great post!!

    • Thanks, Suzanne. haha, good point about the microwave. It was just the tray I had to clean, though I realized I could have avoided that had I set the mug on a plate. Lesson learned.

      You’re living in the the heart of the MG scene, but am with you on watching from afar. Seems a bit strange. Though worth keeping an eye on.

  10. After reading this post, I agree completely with what you said in your message. Molecular Gastronomy is fun!

    And leavening cake with Nitrous Oxide! That’s like my favorite recipe ever. And so appropriate to have “laughing gas” on a blog called Food for Fun. Woohoo!!!!

    • Thanks, Dave. I could pretend I knew all along that N2O is laughing gas, but I did not so I won’t. Could get pretty silly around here, haha. Yes we’re all about fun here. All fun. All the time. πŸ˜€

    • Thanks, Jayne! The cake was a disaster, really, but no way was I letting all of that chocolate and four eggs go to waste.

      Good thing I have your broccoli soup to bring be back to healthy πŸ™‚


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