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Sunday Food: Sugar Skulls for el Dia de los Muertos


Sugar skulls

(Picture Courtesy of Allen Co (IN) Public Library at

It’s now another Dia de los Muertos, the commemorative skulls are so pretty and look impossible, so today to celebrate the Day of the Dead for those still waiting to get into heaven, as MaryM tells us it’s about, why not see how it’s done?

Here are some instructions I found, and they don’t sound impossible. Were you looking for something to do, maybe while a football game or Masterpiece Theatre, or the opera plays in the background?


Gel Food Coloring

1/4 cup meringue powder
6 cups granulated sugar
1/3 up water
7 1/2 teaspoon meringue powder
6 teaspoons water
1 pound powdered sugar
commercial Icing
Sugar Skulls (makes 4 medium 3-D skulls)


Mix the sugar, meringue powder and water together until all the granules of sugar are wet. Pick up a handful of the mixture and squeeze in your hand. If it holds together, its ready. If it falls apart, it will need a tiny bit more water.

  • Fill your skull mold with the wet sugar, pressing down on the sugar, compacting it as you go.
  • Fill both the front and back skull cavities with the sugar. Scrape off the excess sugar.
  • Cut a piece of parchment paper and a piece of cardboard just a bit bigger than your mold. Set the parchment paper down on top of the mold. Set the cardboard on top of the paper. Grab onto the mold and cardboard, and carefully flip the whole thing upside down. Set it on the counter, then carefully lift the mold up off the sugar skulls. The mold should pop right off. It the sugar sticks, its too wet. Scrape it out of the mold, clean the mold, and add some more dry sugar to the mixture and try molding it again. If your sugar skulls do not hold together, the mixtures needs more water.
  • Your sugar skulls now need to dry. Midway through the drying cycle you need to carefully flip them over so the back sides can dry out at well. They should be ready to decorate in 12-24 hours.
  • Make royal icing. Beat together powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water until its shiny and will hold stiff peaks.
  • Once your skulls are dried, spread a thin layer of royal icing on the flat part of the back side of each skull.
  • Allow the skulls to dry for at least an hour.
  • Your skulls are now ready to decorate. Color small bowls full of royal icing using food coloring. If you wont be using the icing right away, be sure to cover each bowl with plastic wrap.
  • Press the front and back sides together. Use your finger to wipe off the icing that oozes out from in between the two pieces.
  • Pipe royal icing onto the skulls. Any simple or elaborate designs. Get as creative as youd like and use lots of bright colors on each skull for a dramatic appearance.
  • Allow your sugar skulls to dry for several hours before using them as decorations for your Day of the Dead event.

While many of us don’t take this kind of time and trouble, there might be some time between now and the next event, or Easter when sugar eggs are so spectacular, that we have some time on our hands and feel like display art.

Thanks to all of you who shared memories of those you recall fondly at this time. There is a quality of sadness that we don’t enjoy, but sometimes savor and remember.

Sugar skulls

(Picture courtesy of Alex Barth at

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.