COOKING ADVENTURE #43: Glow-in-the-Dark Cupcakes
First off, let me say that this was probably the most anti-climactic cooking adventure that I’ve ever done. I mean, who doesn’t get excited about the prospect of glow-in-the-dark cupcakes? Huh? It’s almost magical. And while I’d hoped to have them done for Halloween, I was struck down with the demonic cold. Since I’ve been fighting this cold off for the last month, it proceeded to completely knock the stuffing out of me for a full four days, including Halloween. Believe me, folks, I was NOT happy. Halloween is pretty much my favorite holiday and I was in bed by 7:30 sleeping off an evil migraine along with the cold. I still haven’t quite gotten rid of it yet. There is a tickle that just stays with you in your throat… and it only gets bad when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone. So, getting over the cold delayed actually making the cupcakes. When it was all said and done… I’ve got to say, it wasn’t really worth it.
Technically, glow-in-the-dark is a stretch for these. They’re actually supposed to glow under a black light. You’re probably wondering what terrible concoction you’d have to come up with in order to make this a reality. Believe it or not, the quinine in tonic water will glow under a black light… or so that’s what the blog said that I got these directions from. In fact, they show a photo of some tonic water which has a practically radioactive-glow to it under black light. Had I actually a black light in my possession a week ago, I could have tested this and saved myself the trouble of actually making this recipe. But… I didn’t.
The recipe obviously starts with making cupcakes from a boxed cake mix. If I’d actually had the energy, I’d have made them from scratch. But seeing as how I felt like I was on the brink of death, I figured a boxed mix was better. This was pretty much easier said than done. The chocolate cake mix required three eggs, 1/3 cup of water, and 7/8 tbsp of softened butter mixed together with the cake mix. I almost wonder why they don’t just make it a whole stick of butter? It can’t really hurt, can it? I mean, you’re practically there already!
Anyway, after whisking everything together, I grabbed my muffin tin from below the counter and placed the cupcake liners in it. I managed to pour the batter into the cups like a complete moron. Instead of just spooning the mixture in, I decided to try and pour and… well, I’m sure you can guess how well that went. The entire pan was covered in spatters of chocolate by the time I was ready to pop the pan in the oven. And I had left over batter for 5 more cupcakes… When the first batch came out, I used up the rest of the cake mix and put the pan back in the oven.
The cupcakes languished on the counter for the next hour or so, cooling down. Having learned from the Great Pumpkin Cake adventure, it’s best to let the cake cool completely before trying to frost, otherwise the entire thing will crumble and pieces of the cake will come off on the knife. I also made sure that the frosting was at room temperature. In the directions on the website, it tells you to take an icing bag and fill it, then pipe out the icing in a corkscrew motion. Folks, I don’t own any icing bags, nor would I ever have use for them. So I figured, I’ll just do what I did on the owl cupcake recipe: take a plastic sandwich bag, fill it with frosting and snip off the corner. Well, this time, I snipped off too much of the corner. When I went to pipe the frosting on, it came out in one giant glob, not wanting to follow any specific movement my hand might offer. I decided it was just better to spread the frosting with a knife and call it good.
At this point, I made a wise decision. When dealing with something that you truly aren’t sure is going to work, do a test group first. I decided that instead of trying to make the entire lot glow-in-the-dark, I’d just do two. That way, I wouldn’t face massive disappointment in case it didn’t work out. I put an m&m in the center of all the other cupcakes and placed them in the fridge to take to work with me the next day. Two of the cupcakes, I gave two m&m’s for ghostly eyes and then stuck them on a plate in the freezer to harden. After another couple of days, I was finally able to purchase a black light and commenced with the recipe.
Before anything, I changed out the bulb in a nearby lamp for the black light, held up the tonic water to it, and shut off all the lights. The tonic water has a faint glow to it… but that’s it. It’s not beaming like some kind of bio-luminescence or toxic science experiment… and certainly not as much as the tonic water in that picture I saw. Returning the lights to normal, I poured some tonic water into a glass and removed the cupcakes from the freezer. The reason you want them frozen is so that the frosting doesn’t wash away in the tonic water. Unfortunately, I didn’t think about my m&m’s when I flipped the cupcake upside down and dunked them in the glass. The m&m’s immediately bled, leading little rivulets down through the white frosting. I quickly threw them back in the fridge and waited the customary hour to hour and a half for them to harden again.
When the time was finally up, I quickly pulled them out, flipped on the black light and shut off all the other lights. Major. Bummer. Dude. It’s really hard to tell if anything is actually glowing. Everything just tends to look really… weird under a black light. In fact, the black frosting I’d added for a mouth turned red. But the cupcakes certainly weren’t glowing as much as in the pictures on the original website. What are you supposed to do to that frosting? Pour the contents of a glowstick into it? Goodness gracious…
All in all, it still tasted good albeit with an odd little quinine flavoring but I have the feeling I won’t be attempting this recipe again. It just didn’t satisfy my Halloweeny cooking chops. However, my other recipes for the month of October did, so I’m happy with the outcomes of those.
Since I’m posting last week’s Cooking Adventure now, you’re in for a double treat as there will be another Cooking Adventure up tomorrow, too. I’ll be leaving my sweet-tooth alone and going to some comfort food that I’ve been craving in light of all this cold weather we’re suddenly getting up here in Maine. (Snow tonight? More than likely…) Tuna Noodle Casserole is tomorrow on this week’s Cooking Adventures. Stay tuned!