How to make sugar skulls candy
What are Mexican sugar skulls?
Sugar skulls are created to celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). They are made of sugar shaped in a mold to resemble a skull which is then decorated with colourful icing. While they are technically edible, it’s highly recommended to use them only as decoration.
Sugar skulls are placed on Day of the Dead altars in token that death should be celebrated as part of the life cycle. Making sugar skulls is a fun Halloween craft that everyone can enjoy.
How to make sugar skulls recipe
The important thing about this sugar skulls recipe is the ratio of meringue powder to granulated sugar. You will need 1 teaspoon meringue powder per cup granulated sugar, plus water. That means for a normal 5-lb bag of sugar, you will need 1/4 cup meringue powder plus about 3 tablespoons of water. Water needed may vary slightly depending on humidity. If it it a very humid day, please wait to make your sugar skulls as they will not turn out.
Once you have your ingredients and mold prepared, you are ready to begin!
Mix the ingredients together with your hands until thoroughly moistened. The desired texture is similar to beach sand. Add a bit more water if needed.
Sugar skull molds to make your own sugar skulls!
Mold your sugar skulls
Press the sugar mixture into the mold carefully, starting with the detailed areas such as the chin and around the edges. Pack it in well, then level off the back with a blunt knife edge.
Prepare a small cookie sheet with a small paper plate. Invert the sheet over the back of the mold and flip it over. Your molded sugar skull should pop right out onto the plate. (The cookie sheet is recommended for extra stability while flipping.) If it doesn’t work, throw the messy skull back into the mixture, mix it up, and try again.
It is highly recommended to clean your mold every four or five skulls.
Drying your sugar skulls
Your skulls will need to dry overnight before decorating. Small and medium skulls will be ready for decorating once dry. Larger ones will need some prep work after a couple of hours: once partially dry, carefully scoop out some of the excess sugar from the insides such that the sugar mixture is about 1/2″ thick. Once dry, you may “glue” the front and backs of the large skulls together with royal icing. Allow to dry thoroughly before decorating.
Set them aside in a cool place with good air circulation and come back to them tomorrow. Do not store in plastic.
Decorate your sugar skulls
How should you decorate your sugar skulls? Traditionally, colored icing and foil would be used, but feel free to get creative. Some fun decorating ideas include sequins, feathers, beads, and other trinkets. You can even use fancy sprinkles!
Sugar skull design meanings
Some traditional elements included in the design of sugar skulls include:
- Writing on the forehead: to represent the name of the person.
- Spiderweb or cross on forehead: used if the skull does not represent a particular individual. It becomes then a reminder of our own mortality.
- Flowers: marigolds and other bright flowers honor the dead.
Sugar skulls candy calaveras de azucar
Don’t have time to make your own sugar skulls? Buy them pre-made.
Are sugar skulls edible?