Honor your ancestors by learning how to make sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos. Dia De Los Muertos–also known as All Saints Day or The Day of the Dead–is a Catholic holiday that celebrates the lives of friends and relatives that have passed away. Because Dia de los Muertos is part of the Catholic tradition, there are different versions of the celebration all over the world, but none are as festive and colorful than the Dia de los Muertos celebrations in Mexico and South America. Dia de los Muertos celebrations are full of brightly decorated alters with offerings of food, parades and music. The sugar skull is probably the most recognized symbol of the Dia de los Muertos celebrations. These small skull-shaped candies are decorated and placed on alters as an offering to the dead and keep the living bouncing off of the walls with their sweet, sugary goodness. They may look like complicated treats to make, but everything you need to make sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos can be found with a quick trip to the grocery store.
Things you will need:
- Confectioners sugar
- Egg white
- Light corn syrup
- Corn starch
- Food coloring
- Wax paper
- Plastic wrap
- Sift two cups of confectioners sugar into a bow and place it to the side. Sifting the sugar makes it smoother so the sugar skulls will have a smoother texture and be easier to paint. Do not use granulated sugar to make sugar skulls. Granulated sugar dissolves when liquid is added to it and will not hold the shape you need to make sugar skulls.
- Pour one egg white, half a teaspoon of vanilla and one teaspoon of light corn syrup into a separate bowl. Use a spoon to mix the ingredients together. When everything is well blended, add the sifted confectioners sugar to the mixture. The confectioners sugar will absorb the liquid and bond with the egg white to give you the solid mixture you need to make sugar skulls.
- Stir the mixture until it begins to get thick. You can use your hands to begin forming this wet, sticky mixture into a solid shape that you will use to make sugar skulls.
- Sprinkle your work space with corn starch. Take the sugar mixture out of the bowl and use your hands and the corn starch to mold it into a smooth ball. This ball will later be cut into smaller pieces.
- Wrap the sugar ball in plastic wrap and chill for one hour. Letting the sugar ball chill will make sure all of the ingredients set into the consistency needed to mold the skulls.
- Sprinkle corn starch on your hands and on your work space. Unwrap the sugar ball and begin breaking off pieces to mold into smaller skulls. Using corn starch on your hands and on your work space will keep the sugar from sticking to your hands or the counter as you mold the skulls. If your sugar ball starts to stick, add more corn starch to your hands or work space.
- Mold the sugar ball pieces into the shape of a skull. If you don't know how to make a skull shape, you can purchase skull molds at craft stores. Lay the completed skulls on a piece of wax paper and let them dry.
Decorate your sugar skulls. Use food coloring to decorate your sugar skulls. Traditionally, sugar skulls are decorated with flowers and bright colors around the eyes and mouth of the skull, but you don't have to stick with traditional designs. Use your imagination!