After lots of requests from my fabulous Bridal Clients for sugar skull inspired accessories, I've grown a real fondness for these charming mementos.
History: These little treats were developed as part of the Latin tradition of Dia de Los Muertos, when spirits of deceased children are able to revisit their families one night a year - Oct 31st. Learn the whole story here.
Try It: This year, after an inspiring trip Mexican Town in Detroit, I decided to make my own. So, with my little collection of sugar (and clay) skulls looking on it gave it a try!
It turns out, it's easier then it looks! With a good mold, and a bit of patience, it's actually a pretty easy project. Absolutely something that could be easily done with children!
How To: My mold came with a very simple recipe that boils down to a ratio: For each cup of sugar, use one teaspoon or of water, and one teaspoon of meringue powder. I made a five cup batch and actually included an egg white instead of water. Call me crazy, but I'm going to assume that when this tradition was developed the people making the skulls probably didn't have access to meringue powder.
Since I knew we wouldn't be eating them, I'm not too worried about the raw egg white. Mix your ingredients to the consistency of wet sand, and you're ready to go. (The instructions explain that when you squeeze a handful your fingerprints should remain - an indicator of proper consistency.)
I filled each mold pressing the 'dough' deeply into the corners and details. When flipping them out take a square or parchment paper and a small cardboard square (I used cereal box) and cover the back of the skull. Flip the mold and the skull should slip onto your parchment. (Some tapping on the 'face' of the skull is required.) Carefully slide the parchment square onto a baking sheet or cutting board where the skulls will sit to dry. The sugar should be allowed to try for 8 hours or more as necessary. (Humid days or the larger skulls would require more time.) I slid my trays of skulls into the oven on the 'keep warm' setting to speed dry time.
Decorate! Each skull can be decorated with royal icing and a tiny piping tip. You can find lots of inspiration photos online that will include sequins, beads, and more. I'll be decorating this batch with a group of gals at a 'Sugar Skull Party' this evening. Photos to come!
Use: If you omit my egg-white addition to the recipe, the pieces would be edible if handled and decorated with clean hands throughout the process. They'll taste like raw sugar, but would be cute additions to a tea or coffee service at an Autumn party. I prefer to use them in a decorative way. They are too cute to destroy!
TRY IT: Resources, Molds, and Recipes are available here.