By now, almost everyone knows of Dia de los Muertos or has at least seen the colorful altars and ornately decorated sugar skills that are emblematic of this Mexican holiday. Interestingly, it’s origins are ancient, rooted in a pre-Columbian past. Modern day festivities take place on November 2 and include visiting graves of deceased family members and bringing them some of their favorite foods and beverages for offerings. This holiday is all about celebrating the dearly departed.
At home, a simple altar can be created with sugar skulls, marigolds, and photos of the deceased. We also include some of their favorite food items in the form of clay representations. Here you will find a simple tutorial on how to assemble sugar skulls.
Since they will be decorated, sugar skulls are usually made of plain white sugar. This time, I made two batches- one plain as usual and the other got a hit of glitter for extra sparkle.
You’ll need a plastic skull mold, cardboard squares, utensil for mixing, bench scraper or the back of a large knife, granulated sugar, meringue powder, water, and glitter if you’re want to make ’em flashy (optional).
Combine sugar, meringue powder, and water and thoroughly incorporate until the mixture resembles beach sand. It should be damp and when squeezed in your hand it should hold its shape. If you can see your finger marks, it’s ready.
Pack the mold and scrape the excess sugar off with a bench scraper or use the back of a large knife.
You will want a completely smooth surface.
Invert onto a cardboard square and place onto a paper lined sheetpan. Let dry uncovered for 24 hours. The following day, they will be rock hard and ready to attach the front and back of the heads with royal icing. The decorative elements for faces are made with colored royal icing, glitter, and colorful pieces of foil.
yield: 2 small- medium size skulls
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons meringue powder
2 teaspoon water, more if necessary