• Neon galaxy cupcake (Nick Makrides)Source: Nick Makrides

These magic glow-in-the-dark cupcakes are made with strawberry essence and a meringue buttercream frosting. The neon trick - it's all in the tonic water! #MardiGras40






Skill level

Average: 3.6 (114 votes)



  • 429 g all-purpose flour
  • 265 g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 125 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 375 ml of tonic water
  • 125 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt (can substitute with sour cream)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp strawberry essence
  • 5 drops pink food gel
  • 3 drops orange food gel


  • 1 batch Swiss meringue buttercream frosting (recipe here)
  • 2 drops green food gel + 1 drop yellow food gel
  • 2 drops purple food gel
  • 2 drops blue food gel

Jelly Glaze

  • 1 packet clear jelly or blue jelly.
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 cup tonic water 

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Chilling time: 30 minutes

Preheat a fan-forced oven to 160°C (320°F) or 180°C (356°F) for a conventional oven. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, baking powder, caster sugar and salt. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (alternatively you may do this by sifting the ingredients together). Add the softened butter and let it mix until it resembles a fine sand-like texture.

Next, add tonic water, eggs, yoghurt, oil and vanilla extract in a large jug and whisk well.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds.

Fill each cupcake liner ¾ of the way (using an ice cream scoop to transfer the batter into the cupcake liners makes this a quick and easy process otherwise you can use two tablespoons). 

Bake for 30-35 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow them to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.

To make the frosting, split into three separate bowls. Colour one purple, one green with the green and yellow food gel and the other blue. Mix until well combined.

Add each colour to three separate piping bags and snip a small bit off the end of each one.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap on your workbench and pipe lines of the different coloured frosting on it. Then roll up and twist both ends. Snip off one end and insert it into a large piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M piping tip. Frost a swirl of frosting on your cupcakes. Chill in the fridge until frosting is stiff. About 30 minutes.

To make the jelly glaze, add the jello powder to a medium-sized mixing bowl and some hot water. Mix until completely dissolved. Then add Indian tonic water until mixed. Set aside at room temp.

Once the cupcakes are chilled carefully dip into the jelly/jello glaze. Allow excess to drip off. Thaw before serving.

Use a black light to make them glow in the dark!



• I use Americolour brand food gels.


This recipe, photography and styling is by Nick Makrides from The Scran Line. For more check out his Instagram @thescranline.