Kid-friendly Cocoa Loco Berry Buckle Cake in a Mug Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Cocoa Loco Berry Buckle Cake in a Mug

Recipe: Cocoa Loco Berry Buckle Cake in a Mug

Cocoa Loco Berry Buckle Cake in a Mug

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Natasha McCone and Kate Bezak
prep time
5 minutes
cook time
3 minutes
1-2 servings

Fun Food Story

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Cocoa Loco Berry Buckle Cake in a Mug

Today, we're making a buckle cake in a mug! They take five minutes to whisk together and only a few minutes to "bake" in the microwave. Chocolate and berries go together like two peas in a pod! We love this recipe because it combines modern technology with a classic, vintage recipe. The recipe intro below provides a brief history of buckle cakes. Cake recipes provide an excellent opportunity to practice measuring, follow sequential steps, and learn the functions behind essential baking ingredients like sugar, butter, and flour. You can read about COOLinary Cake Science below.

Add more berry deliciousness to your Cocoa Loco Berry Buckle Cake in a Mug by serving it with Berry Delicious Soft Serve!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • fold :

    to gently and slowly mix a light ingredient into a heavier ingredient so as not to lose air and to keep the mixture tender, such as incorporating whipped egg whites into a cake batter or folding blueberries into pancake batter; folding is a gentler action than mixing or whisking.

  • melt :

    to heat a solid food so it becomes liquid, like butter or chocolate.

  • microwave :

    to heat or cook food or liquid quickly in a microwave oven, which uses high-frequency electromagnetic waves to generate heat in the food's water molecules.

  • mix :

    to thoroughly combine two or more ingredients until uniform in texture.

  • whisk :

    to beat or stir ingredients vigorously with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.

Equipment Checklist

  • Microwave
  • Microwave-safe mug
  • Potholder
  • Paper towel or dish towel
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Metal spoon or small whisk
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Fork
  • Soap for cleaning hands


Cocoa Loco Berry Buckle Cake in a Mug

  • 1 T butter **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance brand)**
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/4 C milk **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free milk)**
  • 1/4 C all-purpose or whole wheat flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub all-purpose gluten-free/nut-free flour)**
  • 4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder **(for CHOCOLATE ALLERGY sub carob powder)**
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 handful chocolate chips **(for CHOCOLATE ALLERGY sub carob chips; for DAIRY/NUT/SOY ALLERGY use Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips)**
  • 1/4 C frozen berries (your choice)

Food Allergen Substitutions

Cocoa Loco Berry Buckle Cake in a Mug

  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance brand. Substitute dairy-free/nut-free milk. Use Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips.
  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute all-purpose gluten-free/nut-free flour.
  • Chocolate: Substitute carob powder for cocoa powder. Substitute carob chips for chocolate chips.
  • Nut: Use Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips.
  • Soy: Use Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips.


Cocoa Loco Berry Buckle Cake in a Mug


A berry buckle cake is a single-layer cake, similar to a coffee cake with streusel, with berries, usually blueberries, added to the cake batter. The fruit bubbles as it cooks and as it rises "buckles" the top of the cake. When early settlers came to the Americas, they had to learn how to make new things with the ingredients they had. This is how many recipes were created and still are! Names were given to recipes based on how they looked once they were cooked. Look at your cake, smell it, and taste it once it's cooked. What would you call this Cocoa Loco Berry Buckle Cake in a Mug if you were to rename it?

add + melt + whisk

Add 1 tablespoon of butter to your microwavable mug and microwave for 30 seconds to melt it. Measure and add 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 cup milk. Whisk!

measure + mix + fold

Measure and add 1/4 cup flour, 4 teaspoons cocoa powder, 1 pinch of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder to the mug. Mix well. Stir in 1 handful of chocolate chips. Fold in 1/4 cup frozen berries.

cover + microwave

Cover mug with a damp paper towel or dish towel. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Check the cake after 2 minutes by poking a fork through the middle. Careful! Handle may be hot! Cake should be pudding-like but not too wet. Microwave for another 30 seconds to cook more. Use a potholder to carefully remove the mug from the microwave. Let cool slightly before topping with whipped cream or Berry Delicious Soft Serve!

Surprise Ingredient: Chocolate + Cocoa!

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Photo by New Africa/

Hi! I'm Chocolate!

"Hello! Let me introduce myself! I can be dark brown, light brown, or even white. I'm sometimes bitter, sometimes a little sweet, and often very sweet. I add flavor and excitement to many other foods! Have you guessed yet? I'm Chocolate! You may be familiar with me from candy bars or chocolate sundaes, but I can liven up many other foods, too, including chili, butter, and milk!"


  • The cacao (kahKOW) tree is native to equatorial South America and the rainforests of Mesoamerica. It was first used 5,300 years ago by indigenous people in South America. Mesoamericans who lived in the rainforests of Mexico and Central America domesticated the tree about 1,500 years later. They drank chocolate as a bitter beverage—far from the sweet treat most of us are familiar with today. 
  • The Mayan people of Central and South America used cocoa as currency and as medicine: it was very valuable, just like vanilla! In fact, it was so precious that they made counterfeit cocoa beans out of clay and avocado seeds!
  • The Aztec people are a nomadic tribe in Northern Mexico. When the Aztec empire began to expand, they demanded that the Mayan people pay tribute to them through gifts of cacao. 
  • The Aztec people ruled until Spaniards arrived and conquered the land and its people. The Spanish explorers took cacao beans back to Europe, where they experimented by adding cinnamon and sugar to sweeten it. For a long time, only aristocratic people enjoyed chocolate.
  • Princess Maria Theresa married Louis the 16th from France and gave him chocolate as a wedding present! Demand for chocolate soon grew very fast, and as a result, people were enslaved on plantations to grow cacao to meet the high demand.
  • In 1847, Joseph Fry invented the first chocolate bar. By 1907, Hershey was manufacturing millions of chocolate kisses each day.  
  • Cacao trees grow best in the rainforest underneath the branches of taller trees. However, they won't bear fruit until they are at least three to five years old. 
  • Most early Spanish sources refer to chocolate as "cacahuatl" (cah-cah-Hwat), which translates to "cacao water."
  • The word chocolate comes from a combination of a Mayan word for hot, "chocol," and an Aztec word for water, "atl."

How Chocolate is Made

  • All chocolate comes from the beans of the cacao tree. Cacao trees produce pods containing pulp-covered seeds. Before cacao is processed, it would be hard for most of us to recognize it as chocolate! This is because the pulp-covered seeds taste bitter and raw and look nothing like the chocolate products we see in stores.
  • The seeds go through a process called fermentation, and then they are dried and made into nibs before being turned into chocolate. 
  • A cacao pod contains about 30 to 50 almond-sized seeds—enough to make about seven milk chocolate candy bars! 
  • After roasting and grinding cocoa beans, chocolate liquor is left, which is about equal parts cocoa solids and cocoa butter. After the cocoa butter is mostly extracted, the result is dry cocoa solids. Cocoa powder is the powdered form. Natural cocoa is a light brown color and tastes bitter. 

  • Dutch chemist Coenraad van Houten created the "Dutch process" method in the early 19th century to reduce the acidity in natural cocoa powder by treating the beans with alkaline salts. As a result, Dutch process cocoa is less bitter and has a dark brown color.

How to Enjoy Cocoa & Chocolate

  • You can add unsweetened cocoa to milk with sugar, honey, or stevia for a delicious and warming beverage. You can also add it to smoothies for a delicious chocolaty taste and an extra hit of magnesium and polyphenols. 
  • Chocolate comes in many forms: bars, kisses, chips, powder, shavings, puddings, syrups, and sauces.
  • Unconventional chocolate flavor pairings: cardamom, lavender, wasabi, chili, chipotle, sea salt, lime, matcha, curry, ginger, mint, figs, fennel, sesame, parmesan, and Earl Grey tea. Seriously, what doesn't go well with chocolate?! Can you think of any other fun and delicious pairings?


  • Dark chocolate helps protect your heart, blood, and brain! To get the full health benefits of chocolate, choose at least 85% cocoa content or higher. The higher percentage makes the chocolate more bitter, but those bitter compounds, called polyphenols, are antioxidants that provide several health benefits. Many people prefer very dark chocolate!
  • Polyphenols help prevent heart disease by maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, keeping vessels flexible and allowing the blood in our body to flow easier (good circulation), and reducing inflammation. In addition, they help control blood sugar levels, lower cancer risk, and boost immunity. Polyphenols also promote good digestion.  
  • Cocoa is a great source of magnesium. We need magnesium for good health! For strong bones, healthy teeth, and as a building block for proteins within the body.
  • Cocoa can protect our teeth?! Cacao contains antibacterial elements that fight tooth decay. However, this is true with unsweetened cocoa only, as most mass-produced chocolate has a lot of sugar. We know what sugar does to our teeth—it causes decay! 
  • One study has shown that the smell of chocolate may actually relax you by increasing theta waves in the brain!

COOLinary Cake Science!

Photo by Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/
  • Flour Provides the Base of the Recipe: Flour gives structure to the cake. The gluten or protein in flour combines to form a web that traps air bubbles and sets. The starch in flour sets as it heats to add to and support the structure.
  • Fat Holds it All Together: Fat coats the gluten molecules so they cannot combine as easily, contributing to the cake's tenderness. In many cakes, fat also contributes to the fluffiness of the final product. When sugar is creamed with fat, small pockets of air form from the sharp edges of the crystals interacting with the fat. These pockets form a finer grain, making the cake soft and tender when baked. Fats also carry delicious flavors over your tongue and taste buds!
  • Sugar is Sweet and Tender: Sugar adds sweetness and contributes to the cake's browning. Sugar tenderizes a cake by preventing gluten from forming. Sugar also holds moisture in the cake. Sugar crystals cutting into solid fats like butter help create the cake's structure by making small holes filled with carbon dioxide (CO2) when the leavening agents react.
  • Eggs Equal Texture: An egg is a leavening agent, and the yolk adds fat for a tender and light texture. The yolk also acts as an emulsifier for a smooth and even texture. The proteins in the egg white (albumen) also contribute to the light structure of the cake. 
  • Liquids Lift and Lighten: Liquids help to carry flavorings throughout the cake, form gluten bonds, and react with the starch in the protein for a strong but light and tender structure. Liquids also act as steam during baking, becoming another leavening agent to help make the cake rise.
  • Salt Adds Flavor and Weight: Salt strengthens the gluten and adds flavor. Salt enhances all flavors, including a sweet cake!
  • Rise Up! Baking Soda and Baking Powder: Baking soda and baking powder are leavening or rising agents. These make the cake puff up! They form CO2, which is held by fat pockets, gluten, and starch, making the baked cake rise. Too much leavening agent will make the bubbles too big, causing them to combine and burst, leading to a flat (sad) cake or bread. Too little leavening agent will produce a heavy (dense) cake with soggy or damp layers. Measure everything just right, and your cake will be perfect every time! It's science!

Let's Learn About the United States!

Photo by JeniFoto/ (July 4th Picnic)
  • Most of the United States of America (USA) is in North America. It shares its northern border with Canada and its southern border with Mexico. It consists of 50 states, 1 federal district, 5 territories, 9 Minor Outlying Islands, and 326 Indian reservations. 
  • The country's total area is 3,796,742 square miles, globally the third largest after Russia and Canada. The US population is over 333 million, making it the third most populous country in the world, after China and India.
  • The United States of America declared itself an independent nation from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, by issuing the Declaration of Independence.
  • The Revolutionary War between the US and Great Britain was fought from 1775-1783. We only had 13 colonies at that time! On September 9, 1976, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and declared that the new nation would be called the United States. 
  • The 13 colonies became states after each ratified the constitution of the new United States, with Delaware being the first on December 7, 1787.  
  • The 13 stripes on the US flag represent those first 13 colonies, and the 50 stars represent our 50 states. The red color of the flag symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes innocence and purity, and blue symbolizes vigilance and justice.
  • Before settling in Washington DC, a federal district, the nation's capital resided in New York City and then Philadelphia for a short time. New York City is the largest city in the US and is considered its financial center. 
  • The US does not have a recognized official language! However, English is effectively the national language. 
  • The American dollar is the national currency. The nickname for a dollar, "buck," comes from colonial times when people traded goods for buckskins!
  • Because the United States is so large, there is a wide variety of climates and types of geography. The Mississippi/Missouri River, running primarily north to south, is the fourth-longest river system in the world. On the east side of the Mississippi are the Appalachian Mountains, the Adirondack Mountains, and the East Coast, next to the Atlantic Ocean. 
  • On the west side of the Mississippi are the flat Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains (or Rockies), and the West Coast, next to the Pacific Ocean, with several more mountain ranges in coastal states, such as the Sierras and the Cascades. Between the coasts and the north and south borders are several forests, lakes (including the Great Lakes), rivers, swamps, deserts, and volcanos. 
  • Several animals are unique to the US, such as the American bison (or American buffalo), the bald eagle, the California condor, the American black bear, the groundhog, the American alligator, and the pronghorn (or American antelope). 
  • The US has 63 national parks. The Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, and the Grand Canyon, with the Colorado River flowing through it, are among the most well-known and visited.
  • Cuisine in the US was influenced early on by the indigenous people of North America who lived there before Europeans arrived. They introduced beans, corn, potatoes, squash, berries, fish, turkey, venison, dried meats, and more to the new settlers. Other influences include the widely varied foods and dishes of enslaved people from Africa and immigrants from Asia, Europe, Central and South America, and the Pacific Islands. 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in the United States?

  • Education is compulsory in the US, and kids may go to a public or private school or be home-schooled. Most schools do not require students to wear uniforms, but some private schools do. The school year runs from mid-August or the beginning of September to the end of May or the middle of June.
  • Kids generally start school at about five years old in kindergarten or earlier in preschool and continue through 12th grade in high school. After that, many go on to university, community college, or technical school. 
  • Spanish, French, and German are the most popular foreign languages kids learn in US schools. 
  • Kids may participate in many different school and after-school sports, including baseball, soccer, American football, basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, and track and field. In grade school, kids may join in playground games like hopscotch, four-square, kickball, tetherball, jump rope, or tag.
  • There are several fun activities that American kids enjoy doing with their friends and families, such as picnicking, hiking, going to the beach or swimming, or going to children's and natural history museums, zoos and wild animal parks, amusement parks, water parks, state parks, or national parks. Popular amusement parks include Disneyland, Disney World, Legoland, Six Flags, and Universal Studios.
  • On Independence Day or the 4th of July, kids enjoy a day off from school, picnicking, and watching fireworks with their families. 
  • Thanksgiving is celebrated on the last Thursday in November when students get 2 to 5 days off school. Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are popular December holidays, and there are 2 or 3 weeks of winter vacation. Easter is celebrated in March, April, or May, and kids enjoy a week of spring recess around that time.  
  • Barbecued hot dogs or hamburgers, watermelon, apple pie, and ice cream are popular kid foods for 4th of July celebrations. Turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie are traditional Thanksgiving foods. Birthday parties with cake and ice cream are very important celebrations for kids in the United States!

That's Berry Funny

What kind of candy is never on time? 


THYME for a Laugh

What is blue and goes up and down? 

A blueberry in an elevator!

The Yolk's On You

Tongue twister:

Say it 3 times fast . . . "Bake big batches of brown blueberry bread."

That's Berry Funny

Why did the cake go to the doctor? 

Because it was feeling crumby.

That's Berry Funny

What do you call a sheep covered in chocolate? 

A Candy Baa!

Lettuce Joke Around

Why did the students eat their homework? 

Because the teacher said that it was a piece of cake.

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