During the celebration of Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), sugar skulls are often used to decorate the ofrendas (offerings), and they are exactly what their name describes--skull-shaped sugar. Traditional sugar skulls are made from a granulated white sugar mixture that is pressed into special skull molds. The sugar mixture is allowed to dry and then the sugar skull is decorated with icing, feathers, colored foil and more.
To create these skulls you will need a combination of two recipes, Sugar Blend to create the skulls and a lot of time as they need days for them to dry, however these are great to make with kids as they are colorfull and are safe to make at home.
Sugar Blend to Make the Skulls
1 teaspoon Meringue Powder for every 1 Cup of granulated sugar used.
Step 1 - Mix dry ingredients well.
Step 2 - Sprinkle sugar mixture with 1 teaspoon water per cup of sugar used.
Mix Sugar for Sugar Skulls.
Mix well with hands until every bit of sugar is moistened.
If your fingerprints remain when you squeeze the sugar in your hand, it is ready to mold.
It should feel like cool "beach sand." If it doesn't hold together, mixture is too dry.
Remember, water sinks, so keep the sugar mixture mixed up frequently as you make your sugar skulls
To Mold Sugar Skulls
Pack sugar mixture FIRMLY into mold with special attention to chins & edges. Use a straight edge to scrape the back of the mold flat. Pack down some more until perfectly tight.
Place a stiff cardboard square over mold and invert immediately. Lift mold off carefully. Throw any "mistakes" back into your bowl, stir up and try again.
If mix is too dry, sprits with a water bottle.
Variation - Colored Skulls
Most people prefer white skulls the first time they make them, but if you'd like colored sugar skulls, add paste food coloring TO THE WATER. For a 5 pound bag of sugar, use 1/4 cup meringue powder and 10 teaspoons of water. Yield 5 large skulls or 20 medium skulls or 100 mini skulls or any combination.
For a 10 pound bag of sugar, use 1/2 cup meringue powder and 7 Tablespoons water.
Yield 10 large skulls or 40 medium skulls or 200 mini skulls or any combination.
Mix 2/3 cup water, 1/2 cup meringue powder and 2 pounds powdered sugar with an electric/stand mixer until icing peaks (about 9 minutes) separate and add the color of your choice to reate different colors.
Place the colored Icing in piping bags and decorate your skulls.
DO NOT REFRIGERATE, and be aware that this icing dry very fast so be sure you keep it air tight.
Do not make sugar skulls on a rainy or high humidity day. They will not turn out.
Royal icing is a cement type icing used for gingerbread house construction. It isn't very tasty, but it is strong, dries pretty and lasts. Use ONLY concentrated paste food colorings.
To get all the materials and skull molds you need for this recipe, visit our friends from MexicanSugarSkull.com
Enjoy Culture and Happy Dia de los Muertos!
Chef Martin Lopez