Updated: Jul 28, 2020
These cupcakes may be the coolest things I have ever baked! I had no idea you could make glowing food, but when I was tasked with coming up with ideas for Glow Week, I knew I needed to find something new and exciting. Full disclosure--they are a bit time consuming and you absolutely have to have a black light to see the full glow. If you aren't up for all that, I totally get it. I'll divide this project into three parts so you can decide how far you want to go. Even if you just decide to make the tie dye cupcakes and use canned frosting on top, they will still be really cute, colorful and delicious!
Ingredients for Tie Dye Cupcakes:
🔲one box white cake mix (and all items listed on the back of the box)
🔲food coloring (neon colors will work best for “glow”)
Ingredients for Frosting:
If you want to make this as easy as possible and would rather not continue on with the homemade frosting, you can use store bought frosting in a can. Any kind will work. You can even add some neon food coloring and your cupcakes will be perfect for Glow Week! If you're ok making frosting, you will need:
🔲1 cup (2 sticks) butter
🔲4-6 cups powdered sugar
🔲5 T tonic water
🔲1 T vanilla
Ingredients for Glow in the Dark Glaze:
If you really want to make your cupcakes glow, this glaze will get you there. You cannot use it with frosting from a can because store bought frosting will not harden enough and you will end up with a big gloppy mess. If you're up for it, you will need:
🔲1 box lime jello (we used lemon because the store was out of lime, but I think the lime will show up better)
🔲1 cup water
🔲1 cup tonic water
To Make Tie Dye Cupcakes:
Follow the instructions on the cake mix box to get the batter ready.
Divide the batter into separate bowls, depending on how many tie dye colors you want. Add a few drops of food coloring to each bowl and mix well, until desired colors are reached.
I like these Wilton gel colors (found at Target.) They made great neon colors.
To assemble your tie dye cupcakes, begin by dropping spoonfuls of batter into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Its easiest if you pick one color and add a spoonful to all twelve cups in the pan and then switch to the next color. Repeat this until your cupcakes are about 2/3 -3/4 full. Don't mix the colors! Just let them sort of plop on top of each other. Then follow the directions for baking on the back of your box.
When your cupcakes are baked, let them cool completely before frosting. At this point, you can either frost them with store bought frosting and call it a day, or you can proceed to the next step.
To Make Glow Frosting:
Whip the butter with a stand mixer or hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla. Begin alternating one cup of powered sugar and one T of tonic water until desired consistency is reached. You want your frosting pretty firm so that it can form peaks that stay and don't droop back down into a puddle.
To frost your cupcakes, you have a few options. We used a large star tip and a pastry bag because we had that at home. If you don't have those items, you can load the frosting into a ziploc bag, cut off the corner, and squeeze it out onto the cupcakes that way. Or, you can just use a knife. Whatever works. No judgement here. 😉 (If you do use a knife, try to make some creases in the frosting because that is where the glowing glaze will pool up and really glow.)
If this is your stopping point, your cupcakes will be amazing and taste great! The colors will really pop when you bite or slice into the cupcake. Your frosting may even glow a little bit because of the tonic water. You'll have to put them under a black light to test it out.
If you're still with me, you are a total rock star! 🤩 Let's move on to the glow in the dark glaze and get these babies really glowing!
First, put your cupcakes into the freezer. You want the frosting to harden up a bit. Next, put a cup of water in a small saucepan and bring it to boiling on the stove. Remove from heat, pour into a measuring cup or small bowl, and add the box of lime jello. Stir until completely dissolved. Then add one cup of tonic water and mix well.
You will want to cool your jello mixture down to about room temperature before using it. To do this quickly, you can make an ice bath. Put your jello mixture container into a larger bowl and then surround it with ice cubes. This will bring the temperature down fairly quickly so you can get to glazing without the jello starting to set.
Once your jello mixture is cool enough, you can start glazing. Remove cupcakes two at a time from the freezer. Quickly turn them upside down and dip them into the glaze. Let the excess drip off a bit and then return the cupcakes to the freezer. Repeat this until all cupcakes are glazed. Then let the cupcakes sit in the freezer for five minutes.
You will repeat the glazing process for a total of six times with five minute rests in the freezer in between dipping. You should be able to complete this process before the jello begins to set. If you don't get all the way through the six dips, that's ok. Your glow will just not be as bright. The more times you dip, the more your cupcakes glow!
Store your cupcakes in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve.
To see your glow in the dark cupcakes in all their glory, set them on a tray and shine a black light on them. Get ready to be amazed!
These cupcakes are so cool! I honestly couldn't believe it, and my kids were in shock at how pretty they were! I was also worried about them tasting a little weird because of the tonic water, but I was pleasantly surprised. There was a slight aftertaste, but nothing off putting.
They may take a little work, but the end result just might be worth it!
Did you make glow in the dark cupcakes? Show us @little.sunshine.mom!☀️