Chocolate cake ingredients. (Evan Kravitz / Sun Contributor)

October 8, 2015

Dorm Room Hacks: How to Make Chocolate Cake in Your Own Dorm Room

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It’s 2:00 a.m. You’re in your dorm, your stomach is growling and you can’t get yourself to walk the 100-or-so steps to Nasties. Time for chocolate cake. Chocolate cake, you ask? Yes, cake. By following a few easy steps, you can whip up a moist and rich chocolate cake in the convenience of your own dorm room.

Chocolate cake is arguably the most amazing dish of all time. This warm and decadent treat is sure to raise spirits and teleport you to a magically comfortable place. However, it’s difficult to prepare in a short amount of time. Preparing the perfect chocolate cake quickly involves science (but don’t worry — this kind of science is delicious and won’t lower your GPA).

Let me introduce you to the microwave. You’re used to just using it for warming up  pizza or heating water for tea. But there’s so much more the microwave can do. The microwave is one of the most underutilized pieces of kitchenry out there, which is a shame, because it such an efficient way of cooking food.

Microwaves and traditional ovens are fundamentally different cooking tools. Ovens use convective heat, while microwaves rely on electromagnetic waves to heat water particles. This kind of cooking unfortunately has the tendency to dry out food, which does not bode well for chocolate cake. Therefore, I knew that whatever recipe I’d use to make cake would be tasty regardless.

Most chocolate cakes consist of a couple key components: the dry mix, eggs, some liquid and fat. For this chocolate cake, we will be using store-bought dry mix. We simply don’t have the time or the kitchen resources to fool around with different dry ingredients. Plus, you can buy pretty good cake mixes nowadays.

Let’s talk about the eggs. When you bake chocolate cake in an oven, you use eggs as a binder; the protein in the eggs gives structure to cake. This method does come with some downsides. The protein in eggs tends to decrease the moisture, and for some reason, the eggs seem to dampen the flavor (which my floormates can attest to). After testing different recipes, I decided to omit eggs.

The next key ingredient is some sort of liquid. I like using milk because it imparts a richness that works well with the chocolate. The milk also gives the cake a moistness and a fluffiness that really sets it over the top. But in addition to the milk, don’t forget about the oil. The oil is responsible for the cake’s richness and dark, chocolaty flavor. So without further ado, here’s the recipe:


4.5 tbsp chocolate cake mix
1.5 tbsp milk
1.5 tbsp vegetable/canola oil


Mix ingredients until just combined. Pour into greased microwave-safe mug. Microwave for about 60 seconds.

That’s it. Your piping hot cake is ready to eat. Scoop some ice cream on this cake and you’re on your way to dessert nirvana. Like marshmallows, chocolate chips? Add that to the mix. There’s no limit to how you can modify this recipe, so do whatever suits your tastes. Also, feel free to approximate measurements. Don’t stress out about exact amounts; just make sure you have the right consistency. Last thing: not all microwaves are created equal. Frequently check on your mug cake to ensure that it’s cooked all the way through, but not overcooked. That’s a sin!