Day of the Dead Mexican Sugar Skulls
When we used to live in Orange County, California, my sister and I (and later Raj), would occasionally make the trek up to Olvera Street, the oldest part of downtown Los Angeles, via the train. It was an annual trip at the end of September that signaled the beginning of Halloween decorating season and an excuse to buy Day of the Dead items. If you’ve never been to Olvera Street, you need to go. It makes a great day trip to eat authentic Mexican food and to stroll around cool and hip shops full of Day of the Dead figurines, sugar skulls, and lots more. A few years back, I tried to find a local shop or bakery in Virginia that sold sugar skulls and/or Pan de Muerto (Day of the Dead bread), but with no such luck, I’ve had to create my own.
Making your own sugar skulls is really easy, but it does take time and LOTS of granulated sugar. I only made four large skulls and two smalls ones and used 5 pounds of granulated sugar for the skulls and 2 pounds of powdered sugar for the Royal Icing, but your hard work will pay off AND they last for years!
- 5 pounds granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup meringue powder (a must; it helps the sugar stick together)
- 3 tablespoons of water
- Mix all of the ingredients into a large bowl using your hands until all of the sugar is moistened. It should feel like wet sand.
- Pack the plastic sugar skull molds (I purchased a small one at Sur la Table and a large one online) firmly with sugar, using a straight edge to scrape the back of the mold flat–I used a piece of cardboard for this.
- Tip sugar out of mold and place on a flat surface to dry overnight.
After the sugar skulls have been allowed to dry at least overnight, prepare Royal Icing recipe to piece the two halves of the skulls together and to decorate them.
- 2 pound bag of powdered sugar (7 cups)
- 1/2 cup meringue powder
- 2/3 cup water
- Mix 2/3 cup water, 1/2 cup meringue powder and 2 pounds of powdered sugar with an electric mixer until icing peaks (about 9 minutes).
- Mix icing with food coloring.
Making Your Skulls
- My molds are made of two pieces, a face and the back of the skull. With the plain white Royal Frosting, add a small amount to each half and place together, wiping away any excess that comes out of the seams.
- Decorate your skulls using sequins foil paper (I ordered this online as well)