Cook Up Some Glow Worms

Geek Culture Hacking the Holidays


Melissa Lehuta/Modernist Cuisine.

You can make extra-creepy candy crawlies by swapping a secret ingredient—tonic water—into a gummy worm recipe. This one is adapted from Modernist Cuisine, and the quinine in the tonic causes the sweets to glow under a black light. Your kids (and your dentist) will totally freak out.

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    You’ll Need:

  • Fishing lure molds
  • Immersion blender
  • Food processor
  • Black light*
  • Tonic water
  • 9 sheets 200-bloom gelatin
  • 2/3 cup isomalt
  • 1/8 cup clear honey
  • 1 Tbsp. glucose syrup
  • 3 Tbsp. gum arabic
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla bean seed
  • Dash of Thyme**
  • Several Oreos


1. Bloom the gelatin by combining it with 3 Tbsp. of water and sealing it in an airtight plastic container. Soak the container in a hot (140° F) bath for about half an hour.

2. Combine the isomalt, honey, glucose syrup, and gum arabic with 1/2 cup of tonic water in a pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cut the heat. Stir in vanilla bean seeds and essential oil.

3. Whisk in the bloomed gelatin. Use an immersion blender to fully emulsify the mixture.

4. Pour the warm mixture into the molds. Let them cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least four hours to set.

5. The worms must be grimy and dirty. So remove the filling from the Oreos, and toss the cookies in the food processor. Pulse until you’ve got a dark-brown, soil-like consistency. Spread the crumbs on a plate.

6. Remove the worms from their mold, arrange them in the “dirt,” and click on your black light. Behold the luminescence of your chewy snack!

(Makes about 1 pound; try the Modernist Pantry or the Baker’s Kitchen websites for the more unusual items.)

* (a 390-nm LED UV flashlight won’t work; you need something that’s around 365 nm)
** (or orange, rose, or any other flavor)

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