I love Mexican celebrations. When I was in high school, I don’t think I appreciated Spanish class nearly as much as I should have. Something about the vibrant colors of pinatas, papel picado, and calaveras really makes me happy.
With Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) just around the corner, it’s time to finally break out the Sugar Skulls!
I’ve thought about making real calaveras de azucar in the past, but back then my Spanish wasn’t so great and all of the English instructions made it seem SO COMPLICATED. You have to have the correct kind of mold, the correct kind of merengue powder (regular stuff just won’t do, I was told), and buttloads of time and then enough talent to decorate them so they don’t look dumb. After all that work, and they’re not even edible?? Yeah… no thanks.
But then I found a mold from Martha at JoAnn’s, and I knew my destiny! (I actually don’t recommend this mold, since it’s very flimsy and would crinkle at the slightest touch… I don’t know how it’s intended for candy making or anything)
Want to make your own?? OF COURSE YOU DO!
Here’s what you need to know:
- Sugar Skulls, while made from food, are *not* intended to be edible. They’re gross, actually (kind of like gingerbread houses, in my opinion; pretty, but not worth eating)
- They’re made from (you guessed it) sugar, and merengue. Soooo while you could use merengue powder, I decided to use egg whites since I didn’t want to make a special purchase unless I had to.
2 large egg whites
2 lbs. powdered sugar
Teensy bit of water
Start with the egg whites and about a cup of powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer if possible and mix the heck out of it. Add another cup or so of sugar.
Keep slowly adding sugar and mixing thoroughly until you can’t use the mixer anymore. Serioiusly, mine was creaking and begging for mercy and started to burn up a little… yeah.
When you reach that point, get your hands messy! Start kneading with your hands, and add sugar until it’s a nice, thick, dense mixture. I used all but about one cup of the bag of powdered sugar. You know it’s good when it packs well and isn’t too wet or dry (think of perfect fort-building snow, or sandcastle-sand). To really make sure it was all incorporated well, I sprinkled a handful of tapwater in it and kept kneading.
At this point, start packing the mixture in the molds. Really pack it well; the mold wil be deceptively heavy! I let it mound over the top, like so…
and then scraped the excess away with my fingers.
If your mixture is good, you should be able to pop it right over and they’ll fall out. I had to bop some of the skullies on the nose to get them all out.
At this point, they’re soft but solid. Some turned out kinda wonky cause the mold took a lot of abuse. Put them on a cookie sheet and let them dry.
Mine are currently in the oven to keep them away from the dog (she was especially interested in this project)- I might turn it on “warm” to speed up the drying process… we’ll see. EDIT: Putting them in a warm oven was a BAD idea! They got all mushy! Now I have to wait and see if they harden up again… le sigh.
Stay tuned for the decorating!