Prep 48 hrs
Cook 0 mins
Along with Halloween, I am fascinated with the Mexican holiday Day Of The Dead, which occurs on November 1 and 2 (the 1st to honor children who have passed, and the 2nd to honor adults). These colorful little sugar skulls are created to place at the traditional altars to honor and welcome the spirits of deceased loved ones. The altars include brightly colored paper tissue paper garlands called papel picado in colors of purple, white, and pink; purple candles; a towel, soap, and washcloth so the spirits may "clean up" a little after their journey; treats that the departed enjoyed while on earth; and among many more things, these little skulls are used in various representations on the altar. And while these are technically edible, I generally don't eat them; in fact, I like to apply a bit of clear coat on them to preserve them.
- 1 egg white (essential for hardening of the sugar)
- 3⁄4 cup water
- 1⁄4 cup light corn syrup
- 7 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 cups cornstarch
- vanilla extract or anise extract or cinnamon extract (if you plan on eating these) (optional)
- food coloring (I like the new neon colors)
- You will also need sequins, for decorating the eyes.
- Combine the egg white and water until foamy.
- Add extract (if using) and corn syrup.
- Add confectioners sugar; you'll end up having to use your hands to incorporate all of it.
- Sprinkle 1 cup of the cornstarch on a work surface and knead the sugar paste in the cornstarch until it's smooth.
- Form a ball and wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap; chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
- Pinch off some of the sugar paste to use with food coloring for decorations.
- With the rest of the paste you should have enough for about 8 skulls; they don't have to be very big, less than the size of a small fist.
- Sculpt the piece of sugar paste into a skull shape, smoothing the surface as you go and forming eye sockets, etc.
- (You can find some really good examples on various sites on the internet--).
- You'll find that the paste gets softer and softer the warmer it gets-- if it sticks too much, add more cornstarch.
- Add food colors (and extracts, if using) to the sugar paste that you set aside; generally the brighter the colors the better.
- If you wish, you can add enough water to form more of an icing and it can be squeezed onto the skulls, if not, forming decorations by hand is okay, too.
- The skulls are generally"cheery" looking and colorful, not particularly scary.
- Finish by using sequins in the eye sockets.
- Now your skull is ready to dry.
- Simply let it sit out in a dry, warm place for a few hours or up to a couple of days based on weather conditions.
- When dry, it's ready to display.
You can also get the molds (in various sizes) to make these fab creations at www.mexicansugarskull.com. Angie, as I sit in my office surrounded by vintage Halloween crapola, Day of the Dead doodads, papel picado and Tim Burton stuff, I wish I could send you a photo. This is the most worthwhile non-commercial holiday to celebrate. So to all who read this recipe (and review), take the opportunity to learn about Dias de los Muertos and instead of being sad over loved ones gone before you, take these days to celebrate their lives and remembering their fave things, including foods.