Reviewer’s Note: Samples of the products discussed here were provided to me for reviewing purposes at no cost.
Shirley J‘s Mugging! Chocolate Brownie Cake collects in one box everything one needs to make a microwave brownie in a mug. This product eliminates a great deal of time and effort from the process of enjoying a warm dessert, and comes pre-measured per single serving, with five servings to a box. Preparation is as quick and painless as emptying a package of brownie mix into a ceramic mug (provided along with the mix in a number of Gift Set options,) whisking in five tablespoons of water, and then microwaving the resulting batter for ninety seconds.
This product’s single serving size earned early points with me, as a person who at least pretends to be somewhat weight-conscious (since if pressed by my sweet tooth to the direct necessity of preparing an entire 9 x 12-inch baking pan’s worth of brownies, I will in time, eat an entire 9 x 12-inch baking pan’s worth of brownies, and there are few long-term positives to my doing so with frequency.) Mugging! allows one to enjoy a taste of something sweet in a portion size that should satisfy with less risk of overindulgence. Another noted advantage is its availability in a gluten-free recipe as well as standard. For the purposes of this review, I sampled both varieties, and while I have no personal health issue with gluten, the gluten-free option can only be a welcome sight to any brownie lover who does and has ever lamented the limitations it places upon their dessert options.
In each case, the finished product came out of a 1200-watt microwave piping hot and thoroughly cooked. Moist throughout, it had a pleasant taste rich with chocolate, and a level of sweetness that was present, but subdued (think dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate). It made a welcome deviation from more overtly sugary brownie mixes, and paired well with accompaniments like a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a handful of diced fruit, or a drizzle of Whisk Bliss Dessert Crème, another of Shirley J’s products (of which I also received a pleasant-tasting sample along with the brownie mixes.) In such cases, the more pronounced sweetness of added accoutrements combined with the understated brownie cake to strike a satisfying flavor balance. The brownie, however, eaten warm and unadorned (or, per an optional step in the prep instructions, with a handful of chocolate chips mixed into the batter) was enjoyable enough in its own right to merit a favorable impression from me.
Shirley J’s Mugging! product line includes breads flavored with walnut or pumpkin spice, a yellow cake/cobbler mix, a “no-pan pancake,” and even a quiche to which one needs only add water and an egg, all requiring the same minimal preparation as the chocolate brownie. Convenient and serving a wide range of flavor preferences both sweet and savory, Shirley J’s Mugging! line is one I look forward to further exploring.