If you celebrate Day of the Dead, go early to the stores and scoop up some of those light up sparkle skulls – you know, the ones that are made of pitted rubbery plastic? Peel off the felt eyes and nose. Buy some plaster wrap from the craft store, cut it in strips and cover the skull with one layer. Let dry. Now take some decoupage medium and white gift tissue and cover it with that. Let dry. Paint white, and decorate as desired!
Traditional Sugar Skulls
Every year I get oodles of e-mails asking about sugar skulls. Used in Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations Nov. 1 and 2, the sugar represents the sweetness of life, while the skull signifies that the body has passed on.
The sugar skulls are colorful and bright and are used in altars to honor loved ones who have passed away. The trick to the skulls (and the icing) is the meringue powder. Mixed with water, it hardens the sugar for the skulls. It also works for the icing, but it is a long process. I have a shortcut, which is why I use mini-tubes of frosting from the grocery store. When all is said and done, they look just like the real thing and are simple to use. And you can learn more about Day of the Dead, its history, traditions and local celebrations at dead.azcentral.com.
1 set of plastic skull molds
Mixing bowl and spoon
2 cups of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of meringue powder
2 teaspoons of water
1 piece of cardboard, approximately 5″ x 5″
Mix the dry ingredients together in the bowl. Sprinkle the water in and continue to mix until the sugar is completely moistened and becomes the consistency of moist sand. Scoop some of the mixture into the mold and pack it evenly and firmly. Place the piece of cardboard on top of the mold and quickly flip it over so the sugar skull pops out. Very carefully slide it onto a flat surface.
Continue making the rest of the skulls. Let them dry for 24 hours in a dry place (indoors so ants won’t get to them!).
Traditional icing (I prefer mini-icing tubes from the grocery store instead!):
2/3 cup of water
1/2 cup meringue powder
2 pounds of powdered sugar
Concentrated food coloring (the kind professional cake bakers use)
1 pastry or Ziploc bag
Blend the ingredients with an electric mixer until the peaks form in the icing. If using assorted colors, scoop the white icing into separate bowls and add a dab of different colored food coloring in each one. Mix again. Scoop the icing into the pastry or Ziploc bag (snip the corner for the latter). Continue until you have several bags of different colors. Keep sealed and refrigerated until use.
Makes four small skulls