Haunted ghost cake: Great glowing ghouls!

“Holy cow, is that cake glowing?” Yes, yes, that cake is totally glowing and it’s making me smile from ear to ear.

When I first brought up the subject of making a glowing ghost cake, well, let’s just say there were some skeptical looks and dubious frowns. Not that my team of fellow bakers and bloggers didn’t believe in me, but they couldn’t really see the cake in their mind’s eye like I did.

Growing up with a birthday three days before Halloween I’ve always loved the wild makeup, opulent costumes, and over-the-top feeling of the whole day. It feels like an extended celebration just for me. Even the color scheme is based on my favorite color – black. How could I not just embrace it all? How could I not want to bring to it my passion for baking and decorating cakes?

Luckily, my team supports my occasional wandering off the normal path, and I was given free reign to create my vision. Sure, this luminous layer cake isn’t for everyone; but I truly hope that folks will see it as an expression of joy and creativity. It’s good to step outside the routine every now and then and really let your imagination fly, float, and flitter.

The cake itself isn’t difficult, but it does require some pre-planning. You’ll need to make the ghosts at least a day ahead of time to let them dry. Once the ghosts are done, it’s a matter of baking and decorating your base cake, gathering some glow sticks at the party store, and inviting your Halloween familiars over for a good time.

Start by checking out our recipe for Meringue Ghosts. Meringue is made by whipping egg whites with sugar, piping it, and baking at a very low temperature. It’s quite simple to make, and has a million uses.

1-ghost cake

Pipe your large meringue ghosts about 3″ to 4″ tall. Don’t worry if they’re not all straight and standing up tall. If you turn the trays around and view all sides, you’ll see the personality of each ghost.

Some will be lumpy, bumpy spooks; some ghouls will droop. Pointy heads, sleepy heads, even ghosts with bed head. Just use your imagination and your new ghoul-friends will appear before your eyes.

Remember, even the best meringue can be fragile, and you’ll likely lose a few ghosts along the way, so make plenty of extras.

Allow the ghosts to bake at 170°F for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the ghosts to dry overnight. Be sure not to open the door, not even for a peek. I find a nice big note taped on the oven door is a huge help in preventing accidental openings.

To show you how to work with the ghosts after they’ve dried, I’m using a Styrofoam ball. It will behave the same way, and I won’t mutilate several ghosts trying to get photos. The unfrosted cake is helpful in seeing details, too.


First, prepare your glow sticks by wrapping them in plastic wrap and trimming off any large excess, like the hanging hole on this one. Set them aside, “unlit.” 2-DSCN1270

For each ghost, turn upside down and use a chopstick, crochet hook, or other long implement to drill a hole in the bottom and up the center. You’ll need to make the hole just as wide as your glow stick, but not so wide that the ghost will wobble all over.

Drill, hollow, test. Drill, hollow, test. If you had a few meringue ghosts fail or flop, they make great test subjects.


There we go, a nice hollow tunnel up the center of the ghost.

Believe me, at this point I did behead a couple of ghosts. Luckily I was able to shave the head portion off of a few other ghosts and swap those out for the missing ones. If you look at the main photo, the tall ghost in the center has a separate body and head.

1-ghost cake2

As you prepare to cut the holes in your cake for inserting the glow sticks keep in mind that they shouldn’t stick up too much, or they may tip over. They shouldn’t be sunk all the way into your cake either, or your ghosts won’t have much glow to them. About 2/3 of the stick should rise above the top of the cake.


When you’re ready to assemble the cake, you’ll need to make holes for the glow sticks to sit in. A smoothie straw makes an excellent cake drill. Be sure to take a dry run, testing for fit. Once you activate the glow sticks you’ll want to present the cake right away, for the best glow.


Now, your glow stick may end up being a bit on the chubby side, requiring a larger hole. Try using an apple corer; they work great. In my case, a new toothbrush holder made lovely, large oval holes that worked quite well.

I did get over-ambitious on a couple of the holes. At the photo studio, some of the holes were too deep for the size glow sticks I was using. No worries, though; I just pushed a little extra cake down into the holes to raise the sticks up again. Filling in with a little frosting would work well, too, like filling the holes with delicious cement.


One final test with the Styrofoam… brilliant!  Be sure to leave a little space between the bottom of the ghost and the top of the cake for that aura of underglow.

So, ghosts are ready, cake is ready, guests are ready. Let’s snap some glow sticks and make Halloween magic!


We hope you enjoy this post on one outlandish cake. Have a safe and fun spooky season, and be sure to walk on the wild side every now and then!





MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. Nancy Menke

    I’m still laughing! This is such a FABULOUS idea and I’m just delighted with the thought of presenting one of these to all the children on my street this year! (My daughter and I are BIG fans of Halloween!!) `Think I’ll try cupcakes so I can make individual gifts. You obviously have a lot of fun, and a gifted imagination. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Denise Fox

    Instead of glow sticks, why not use Fairy Berries. They’re larger sized clear marbles that come apart just before your event – then you pull on the internal plastic tab to activate the battery inside and put the clear marble together again. They (very slowly) undulate on then off then on and off – and last for several hours – you wouldn’t need to cut holes in the cake but could pop one inside the meringue ghost just before the party starts and they would be housed away from the edible item and sharpness of knives. I got them on Save-On-Crafts.com and tuck them under sheer fabric on a rustic dessert table and they resemble fireflies under my birch bark wedding cakes. It’s a hoot!!

  3. Mary

    Love the cake. It was too late to make this year but I’m saving it for next time. I love the tea light idea. Saves from making the holes! Where did you get the purple candy corn?

  4. Jill

    I’m curious to see an actual step-by-step on the meringue ghosts. I’ve had experience making cookies, but would like to see how you build up the layers. The link you share also shows the finished product. Is there another link you can recommend? I once tried to make meringue nests – those were a disaster, too!
    Cute idea. I look forward to trying it. I hope that people will post their pictures!

  5. Joyce

    Happy birthday mine is October 30 missed being a Halloween by a few hours. I always loved Halloween I will try and make this for my birthday cake. Seems pretty easy.

  6. Cindy Young

    Great cake! I can’t wait for December to make Snowman Meringues! Great all winter long 🙂 Have a terrific birthday MJ – Seems we all received a gift in you. My youngest turns 17 on the 31st.

  7. Anita Segreti

    Now you’ve got my mind spinning. I may even have to have a party just so I can make a glow in the dark cake!..Too amazing!


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