Earlier in the week I had, as '90s pop diva Monica stated in her effortless debut single, "one of those days." But unlike the subject of her song, I took it very personally. An emotionally trying day is like having a bowl of vegetables for dessert. (At least, it is to a sweet tooth.)
After an achy back made me feel like the guy on the Doans box, I discovered an account error on a bill, which, of course, meant treasured moments on hold and terse conversations with customer service. As sweet things are my coping mechanism of choice, I thought about all the desserts I would be getting at Trader Joe's.
The next morning I thankfully woke up on the right side of the bed, and after a productive couple of hours I headed to the King of Flavor Combinations (Trader Joe's, obvi) to buy one or two things.
But as you know, that never happens at Trader Joe's.
When I entered my local TJ's, I had a mission: Get fruit for smoothies. But I completely forgot about this as soon as I got to the sweets aisle and started throwing things into my cart with the intensity of Cookie Monster. That's when it caught my eye: a 6.8-ounce box of Trader Joe's Chocolate Salted Caramel Mug Mix. There are two in the box, and they're only $1.99.
Reader, I bought many boxes.
My Experience Making the Chocolate Caramel Mug Cakes
When I got home, I first had a salad for dinner (yawn), and the entire time I was looking forward to salted caramel cake just for me. Trader Joe's said it themselves: "Cake is easily among the top treats for humans. One only needs to consider how it's the central element of birthday celebrations to be reminded of cake's iconic goodie status."
Cake is for more than birthdays: weddings, graduations, gender reveals, divorce parties (they exist), and confirmations. But with the advent of mug cakes, they can be made for even the smallest of celebrations, too.
As I got to my kitchen and took out one (of the many) I purchased, the instructions read clear, and the steps were impressively short in time. First, I took a regular-sized mug (mine was a little over eight ounces) and poured one of the cake mix packets in, added three tablespoons of water in, and stirred it up.
Then I nuked it for just 20 seconds in the microwave before I added the Fleur De Sel Caramels into the mix. I just plopped mine right in. After another 20 seconds in the microwave, I took out my (hot!) cake, and just let it cool for a minute.
The Final Results: How Did It Taste?
My review of this treat? It was fabulous, if a little too sweet. ("I know, too sweet for you?")
Without actual salt granules on the caramels, or a more bitter chocolate than what I tasted, the sweetness of it all definitely firmly puts it in the "child's fantasy" portion of the sugar spectrum.
But, I thought ahead and got myself a can of whipped cream (mine was by Cabot), and the neutral flavor of the cream set off this very tasty but very sweet personal cake quite nicely. I bet some strawberries, scoop of vanilla ice cream, or other, less sweet topping of your choice would take this cake to the next level for you as well.