Pretty tempting, eh?

I have made these cobblers with a group of very young cooks, who really enjoyed chopping up the apples and putting everything together, but when it came to the eating part, they gobbled up the whipped cream, sampled the cake, and left the “healthy” part (the apples) untouched at the bottom. I was reminded of many birthday party experiences, where icing and ice cream were eagerly consumed, and carefully crafted cake was left forlornly on the plate.  If I had been smart, I would have had my junior chefs turn their creations out onto a plate, as pictured above. When we made the butterscotch sauce to dip apple slices, huge volumes were consumed, so I knew the flavors were not a problem.

At the development stage of this recipe, I looked to the existing “3-2-1 cakes” for insight (check them out – a neat use of cake mixes). They are certainly quick and easy, and a cake-mix-based recipe for the batter clearly works, but it undoubtedly tastes like cake-mix-cake (not always a bad thing).  I wanted something less sweet and more “homey”, and something that could be made gluten-free if that was required.  As with all baking, my biggest consideration was whether to use an egg or not, and so began a happy day of kitchen experimentation.  My garbage can consumed a few failed trials — too heavy, too runny, too icky — until I got it just right.  The egg-less cake was pretty stodgy, which could probably have been moderated with a tablespoon of white bean canning liquid (Google “Aqua Faba” for more details).

The biggest trick turned out how to get the job done without the caramel boiling out all over the microwave (coffee mug preparations showed their limits pretty quickly).  Not surprisingly, less is more. The recipe got simpler and simpler with each trial.  Hope you like it!

Caramel Apple Coffee Cup Cobbler


For the fruit part —

  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • Dash of cinnamon (just a sprinkle, less than 1/8 tsp)
  • 1/2 apple, peeled and diced

For the cake part —

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flour (gluten-free works just fine)
  • 2 Tbsp Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon (to taste, and ground ginger makes a nice addition too)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • and a pinch of salt

How to do it:

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a nice deep coffee mug.  20 seconds in the microwave should do it.

Add 1 Tbsp brown sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and give it a stir.

Add ½ apple, peeled and diced.  Any kind is good, but Granny Smith is the best. Stir everything together.

Nuke everything in the microwave at full power for a minute.  This gets the juices flowing, and starts to cook the apples. Set this aside.

Now, to make the cake batter:  In a small bowl, melt another 1 Tbsp butter.  Stir in 1 Tbsp brown sugar to cool everything down.

Add all the rest of the cake ingredients, and stir until smooth.

Scrape the batter out of the bowl and into the coffee cup, on top of the hot apples.

Microwave, uncovered, ON HALF POWER for 3 minutes, or until the cake is puffy, and springs back when lightly touched.  If your microwave isn’t as powerful as mine, it may take another 30 seconds or so.

A word to the wise — if you cook your cake on full power, it may burn in the centre before the edges are finished, and/or you may end up with sugary apple juices all over your microwave tray.  How do I know?  Do you really need to ask?

You can eat your cobbler right out of the mug, garnished with a little ice cream or whipped cream, if you want to save on dirty dishes.

If you really want the full dessert treatment, top it with ice cream or sweetened yogurt and some quick butterscotch sauce.  All the flavors of apple pie a-la-mode, in about 15 minutes, start to serving.

I think I’m going to try my next batch with rhubarb, of which I have more than enough, maybe with a couple of strawberries thrown in.  Hey — I’ll bet you could replace the apples with fresh or frozen berries, maybe using white sugar instead of brown for the fruit base, and substituting a little lemon zest for the cinnamon … or how about a “Bananas Foster” variation …

Excuse me.  I think I hear my kitchen calling me.