This isn’t a cheat, and it’s not an optical illusion—these are simply gin and tonic jellos made by adding gelatin to a gin and tonic and leaving it to set. So why are they glowing that fantastic ghostly color? The answer is that quinine–the bitter flavoring in tonic water–glows under a UV fluorescent light, which can easily be found at hardware stores or on the web. (The bigger the bulb, the better the glow.)
The great thing about this jello, other than its glowiness, is that you can serve it either before the meal as a solid gin and tonic–complete with its bubbles captured in the gelatin so it even retains a little fizz–or you can have them after your meal as a wonderfully crazy dessert. Either way, it’s best to set them on the table with the lights on without drawing undue attention to them. Then place your fluorescent bulb as close to the jello as you can before you you switch off the lights.–Stefan Gates
LC Teetotalling Toddlers Note
Want to serve this specter of a spectacle to kids or teetotallers? The rather crazily creative author swears it works just as well when made without the gin. It also works just as well in shot form as opposed to a single large mold, a fact that we can personally vouch for. Lacking either of those containers, you could opt for a teacup, a teensy brioche mold, or, well, heck, just about anything will suffice.
Special Equipment: gelatin molds or Bundt pans of any size or shot glasses or anything you can think to use as a mold or just use a baking dish and some spooky-shaped cookie cutters
Glow in the Dark Jello Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 11 H, 35 M
- Servings vary
- 2 packages sheet gelatin (enough to set 2 quarts firmly—usually about 50 percent more than listed on the package)
- 2 cups decent gin (if you don’t want to serve alcohol, you can substitute chilled tonic water)
- Juice of 3 large limes or lemons
- 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) tonic water, chilled
- Vegetable oil if using molds
- 1. Cut the gelatin sheets into small pieces using scissors and place them in a large heatproof bowl. Pour 1 cup of gin over the gelatin and leave for 10 minutes, until the gelatin starts to soften.
- 2. Place the bowl of boozy gelatin in the microwave and heat on high power for 1 1/2 minutes or place the bowl over but not touching a saucepan of simmering water and stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Do not let the gelatin come to a boil.
- 3. Stir the remaining gin into the gelatin along with the lime or lemon juice. Then add the chilled tonic water, pouring it in as slowly and carefully as you can to keep it from fizzing. You want to lock in all those bubbles so they have a stunning effect in the jello.
- 4. If using gelatin molds, slick them using a paper towel soaked with vegetable oil. Pour the gin and tonic mixture—again, pour it slowly and carefully to minimizing bubbling—into your gelatin molds or glasses or even into a simple baking dish (you’ll later need to cut the jello into cubes or shapes using a knife or spooky-shaped cookie cutters). Place in the fridge to set for about 6 hours.
- 5. Now’s the fun part. Serve it under a fluorescent UV light. The darker it is, the better the effect, so it’s best at night, with the lights turned out and the UV bulb as close to the jellos as possible!
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Testers ChoiceTesters Choice
Oct 28, 2011
My kids (ages 25 and 27) were totally jazzed about this one. Having their experience at making Jell-O shots behind me, I forged ahead. I split the recipe into two batches, since I don’t like gin, and they don’t like vodka. I followed the directions as written, and used lime juice for the vodka and lemon for the gin.
I poured the Jell-O into waxed Dixie cups, like the dentist uses, and allowed them to set. That way there’s no oily taste from the molds, and you just peel them back to eat.
After bringing them out on the deck, where everyone was standing by with black lights, I can say the kids and adults alike LOVED this one. The Jell-O shots not only glowed, they literally lit up the night. My husband has an industrial-size black light for his work, so we got to really see what these can do. Who needs outdoor lighting when you could almost read by the light these gave off? We all agreed the texture is good, but the alcohol with the tonic water makes for a little bitter aftertaste.
We all found that two cups of alcohol is overwhelming. I don’t drink often, so I thought that might be just me, but they all agreed. I only used one cup of gin in that batch, and they found it much more palatable. I will certainly do this one again, but will decrease the alcohol content and maybe add something to sweeten it to offset the bitterness. All in all, totally fun.
Glow in the Dark Jello Recipe © 2011 Stefan Gates. Photo © 2011 Georgia Glynn Smith. All rights reserved.