Introduction: Ghoulishly Glowing Cupcakes

Picture of Ghoulishly Glowing Cupcakes

Hey Everyone!! I'm just gonna start out by saying, I am so stinking excited about this recipe! A couple of weeks ago I had a follower e-mail me about a frosting recipe that would glow in the dark. Or I should say almost glow in the dark.

Specifically she needed a cupcake recipe that could glow under a black light, but the trouble was that I couldn't find one on the internet to try, so I decided to try my hand at making one. After a couple of tries I am glad to report that I have figured it out!! Yay! And the secret ingredient that causes it to glow is...

Tonic Water! Cool, right? The quinine in the tonic water causes it to glow under a black light for some reason. So, the challenge was to get enough if this into a frosting without making it too bitter or runny. Ugh! Turns out this was a little harder then I thought, but after trial and error I got a frosting that I loved that would actually glow, until I started adding color to it, and no matter what I did I just couldn't get the stupid frosting to glow after I added food coloring.

Then it dawned on me that if you make gelatin with tonic water the jello will glow. What I ended up doing is taking my cupcake and frosting it. Then I stuck it in the freezer to let the frosting get nice and hard. After cooling I took the cupcake and dipped the frosting into liquid gelatin.

After a few dips and trips back into the freezer to set, the frosting glowed!! Before you start just know that the white frosting glows the best. The green, or if you decide to do orange, will glow it just isn't as bright. Also a quick note, the darker you go with your color on the frosting the less it glows. And lastly, if you decide to make the colored frosting with the gelatin, discard any left over gelatin that you do not use for the frosting. If you want to make glow in the dark jello then use less tonic water or else it will come out way too bitter {like a 3 to 1 ratio, 3 parts water to 1 part tonic water}. Hope you all have as much fun with glowing cupcakes as me and my family have. Enjoy!!


1 black light
prepared and cooled cupcakes

White Glow In The Dark Frosting

7 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
5 tablespoons tonic water {diet tonic water works too}
mini chocolate chips morsels

Extras Needed for Green Glowing Frosting

Neon Food Color
0.3 ounce package of either Lime or Orange Gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 cup chilled tonic water

Prepare desired cupcakes and allow to cool. Begin frosting by adding confectioners' sugar, shortening, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons tonic water into a large bowl. Beat on low speed until no loss sugar is visible. Add remaining two tablespoons as needed to bring frosting to piping consistency. Mix at high speed for about a minute to allow frosting to become light and fluffy. Place half of white frosting into a separate bowl and set aside. Add neon food coloring to frosting until it reaches desired color {orange for orange gelatin, green for lime gelatin}.

Pipe colored frosting onto cooled cupcakes and place in the freezer for at least an hour. Meanwhile pipe white frosting on half of the cupcakes using a large round frosting tip. Add two mini chocolate chip morsels for the ghost's eyes to finish ghost cupcakes.

After lettering colored cupcakes freeze, prepare the gelatin by adding gelatin mix to 1 cup boiling water. Stir for about 2 minutes then add 1 cup chilled tonic water. Transfer to a container that will let you easily dip frosting into and place into an ice bath to cool. Keep gelatin in ice bath stirring occasionally until gelatin is cool but not yet set {about 5 to 10 minutes}.

When gelatin is cool to the touch take cupcakes out of the freezer a couple at a time. Dip into gelatin upside down, submerging the frosting but not the cake {it is ok for the gelatin to drip onto cupcake, just don't submerge it completely}. Rotate cupcakes dipping and then returning to the freezer for about a minutes to set gelatin, then re-dip. Dip 4 to 6 times for best results.

Refrigerate until a couple minutes before serving to keep gelatin set. Then place cupcakes under a black light and watch them glow.

{Make enough frosting for about 24 cupcakes}


LynetteL2 (author)2016-01-15

Any chance there is a recipe somewhere for Glow in the Dark Vegetarian Icing. My neice is turning "16" and is a vegetarian.

gafisher (author)2015-12-27

Applying the "glow" as a separate layer is sheer genius! This could also be brushed on a variety of things too large or fragile to dip. Outstanding 'ible!

robertchambers (author)2015-12-08

"Cupcakes". For sure. But glowing edible poo does sound exciting!

LeahE3 (author)2015-11-13

can i use brown vanilla extract?

jodislater (author)2012-11-27

I am wondering if I can substitute butter for the vegetable shortening?

Looking forward to trying the recipe!

PIANO07 (author)2012-10-23

I was wondering if you can make glow frosting out of store-bought frosting and how much tonic you would add. I tried it and just diluted the frosting and it didn't really glow... would save me a lot of time if I could do that instead of frosting from scratch??

scoochmaroo (author)2011-10-20

Ooh, and also, if you ever have time to share your lucky charms marshmallow experiment. . . . :D

foodsnots (author)scoochmaroo2011-10-20

I went ahead and added the commentary that I had on my blog. Thanks for the comment!! It totally made my day. And I will try to get my treats on here. Thanks :)

repguy2020 (author)foodsnots2012-10-08

Lucky Charms marshmallow experiment??!!?? Please let us in on the secret!

Spokehedz (author)2011-10-23

Some vitamins also glow under blacklight--Vitamin A and B vitamins - thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin. Crush a vitamin B-12 tablet and dissolve it in water and it should be able to be incorporated into the frosting for a glowing effect.

I say should, because I have not tried it but it should work. You might have to use a LOT of vitamins to get an effect, and who knows if too many vitamins are bad for you.

foodsnots (author)Spokehedz2011-10-24

I didn't know that, but I would just be careful. I know for sure that too much vitamin A is toxic.

khattan (author)foodsnots2011-10-25

Yes, I agree about the vitamin A.

dbaron1 (author)khattan2011-10-30

It is nearly impossible to "overdose" on Vitamin B. I'm not actually sure if it's possible at all. So I'd say that if you're going to try this, go with the B vitamins, any problems you ran into would not be from ingesting too much vitamin B1, B6, B12, etc...

repguy2020 (author)dbaron12012-10-08

A D E and K are all fat soluble and toxic if too much is ingested. The water soluble vitamins, virtually limitless.

vcote (author)Spokehedz2011-10-26

Yes and no. Some vitamins can cause vitaminose, reactions that would make you sick, or even mess with your kidney and liver functions. But it would have to be A LOT, of vitamins. So unless you plan on completely replacing the sugar with powdered vitamins and eating 25 cupcakes, I would not worry. As a comparison, think about how many carrots you would have to eat before your skin would be affected (yes you can turn orange from eating too much carrots... It's hilarious. You can also make your guests pee turn blue if you color your cupcake with methilen blue, an organic coloring similar to iodine but non toxic that you can buy at pharmacies... Evil.) that said, some vitamins, like e and c are eliminated by your system and will wash out without side effects (e can actually change the smell of your skin when it reach a certain level. Some say it helps repel biting flies at high concentration). I am not a doctor, just fed a lot of vitamins to my older guinea pig on vet's counsel and I know about some, but not all vitamin effects. Take it for what it is worth. Mind you guinea pigs are much smaller than humans.

lmcnutt (author)vcote2011-10-31

I didn't know you could still buy methylene blue. Evil is right. So many people taking Prozac and the like, probably not the best prank since it "could" cause serotonin syndrome, among other things. Even if they've been off of it for a month, in some cases. Not to mention how many people take anti-depressants and don't tell their close family and/or friends. Since methylene blue is considered an MAOI of sorts, I think blue pee would be the least of their problems.

Reed_Sky_Born (author)2012-04-05

i made this before a party and all my friends thought they were toys until i ate it

ienglund (author)2011-10-29

These cupcakes do glow...if they're a few inches away from the black light. Setting the cupcakes on a table and using the black light in the dining room table to make all the other decorations glow too...not so much. It's a great idea, just wish I could have a dedicated black light for the cupcakes.

gdewit (author)2011-10-27

The white frosting recipe can be used to make just glowing frosting, right? I don't need to do the jello part, do I?

I found this cool "recipe":

But I was think of using your fluorescent instead of regular frosting. If I have to jello, I could make Frankensteins.

Thanks for the recipe. Gets me thinking!

foodsnots (author)gdewit2011-10-27

Yes, the white frosting will glow without the additional Jello. That was just a solution for those that wanted color added. Very cute idea btw!!

catlas (author)2011-10-25

Excellent Idea! I Shall be trying this out!
Just so you know though... Tumeric glows under UV - a kinda orang-yellow colour. And Riboflavin will glow a yellow-green colour. So I may try it out with those two ingredients to not only colour the icing, but also make it glow without having to dip it in the gelatin.

lnesbitt (author)catlas2011-10-26

If riboflavin is fluorescent, I wonder if the simple addition of milk to the frosting recipe would be a high enough concentration to glow. My family makes a very similar frosting... powdered sugar, shortening, vanilla extract and milk to desired taste and consistency. Too thin, more sugar. Too sweet, more shortening. Too thick, more milk.

Perhaps an experiment is in order before we pack the black light up from our minerals lab.

Geek Gyrl (author)2011-10-23

P.S. I totally voted for you in the glowing contest - this is well worth a vote!

foodsnots (author)Geek Gyrl2011-10-24

Thank you so much!!

askjerry (author)2011-10-24

That was great thinking... coating the surface instead of raising the concentration. For that... you've got my vote!

foodsnots (author)askjerry2011-10-24

Thank You!!

ballen13 (author)2011-10-23

Have you tried tonic concentrate? Used to be available only via restaurants, but now you can by it in small quantities from Soda Stream. That should give you the availability to add it without thinning it down

foodsnots (author)ballen132011-10-24

I did know that you could get the quinine concentrate, you just have to be careful cause I read that too much quinine can actually be toxic. Thanks for the idea though.

plugable (author)2011-10-23

Brilliant!, in every sense of the word...

foodsnots (author)plugable2011-10-24

Thank you so much!!

U456 (author)2011-10-23

Oh my gosh these cupcakes look so good!

foodsnots (author)U4562011-10-24


justanotherdesigner (author)2011-10-23

These are awesome I love them! these are epic! i <3 them! keep posting awesome video's!!

Thank You!!

Geek Gyrl (author)2011-10-23

this sounds wicked cool & I may have to try it...but then, I started thinking, "hmmm, what else could I whip up & glowify?" Your examples made me wonder if this might not alo be a great treatment on meringue, once it's hardened; or homemade marshmallows. I may have to play made scientist, this week, too. Thanks for the inspiration!

wblack3 (author)2011-10-23

Hey, those cupcakes are as cute as buttons (can I have a dozen, plz?)

Technically not glowing, but fluorescent.

Great idea dipping the icing in a carrier, the jelly with quinine.

Have you tried the following food colours? (copied from Wikipedia):

Fluorescein is also known as a color additive (D&C Yellow no. 7). The disodium salt form of fluorescein is known as uranine or D&C Yellow no. 8.

Fluorescein is nicely fluorescent green and safe enough to eat.

Let us know if you do!


Josielovesdesigning (author)2011-10-22

These are so cute!  I'm gonna take a shot at making these for Halloween. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!! 

Thank you!! Happy Halloween!

mary candy (author)2011-10-21

WAUU Neon Food Color - This tool I must have in my kitchen ;)
Very nice cup cakes;

foodsnots (author)mary candy2011-10-22

I know!! I love it! Like the coolest thing ever. It's awesome with home made play dough cause the colors come out so bright.

Keira_Yagami (author)2011-10-22

Can the frosting be made ahead of time a day or two and then used, or does it have to be same day?

foodsnots (author)Keira_Yagami2011-10-22

Yes you can make these a day or two in advanced. Just keep it in the fridge. And if it separates at all you'll just need to whip it together again before you use it.

scoochmaroo (author)2011-10-20

I love all of the commentary you have on your blog about the process you went through to make these. If you find time, could you include some of that here? I don't know if that might do better in a step-by-step format. Your writing style is just so great!

ChrysN (author)2011-10-19

Neat, love the ghosts!

foodsnots (author)ChrysN2011-10-20


Penolopy Bulnick (author)2011-10-19

Wow! Awesome! I'm so glad you posted these :)

Thank you!!

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