Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Scarily Sweet Sugar Skulls

Maria's after school cooking class did something not quite edible, but totally kitchen-fun... they made sugar skulls, in the Dia De Los Muertos tradition. I should add "Easy" to this post title: "Scarily Sweet and Easy to Make Sugar Skulls!" Dawn shared the recipe, as well as the online shop where she gets her molds and supplies. I've already ordered the medium mold. The directions are emphatic about two points: You cannot do this on a rainy or humid day, and you want a good quality meringue powder. Dawn brought out a ginormo bowl, opened a five pound bag of granulated sugar, added a 1/4 cup of the meringue powder, and only three tablespoons of water. Easy. Then, bare hands went into the bowl and she mixed it all up. It feels like damp sand. I love the texture. Then it's like filling sandcastle molds at the beach... just pack in the sugar, pressing firmly, leveling the sugar. Have a plate, or cardboard square ready, and place it over the open top of the mold, and flip, so you can steadily raise the mold off the sugar skull. I was surprised at how quickly this all came together, and how easily it held. We brought ours home to dry, and after 24 hours they already feel hard.

Dozens of skulls were already molded, dried, and ready for the students to decorate. I'm sure you can make up your own royal icing, and color it to suit your artistic whims, but if you are looking for instant gratification grab those grocery store icing tubes, with the fun decorator tips and get busy decorating your skull! After the handling, and all those dense globs of dye, no one here is tempted to eat these... eew! There was foil paper for the eyes, and for a rectangle on the forehead, where, traditionally, a deceased loved one's name can be inscribed in icing. As Rosie noted, the students jumped in with wild eagerness to decorate their first skulls, but when that initial burst of enthusiasm subsided and when they were on to their second, or third skull, they settled into patient and fantastic creativity. We saw some cleverly decorated skulls, and some very thickly iced skulls, too. It was all good fun. Properly stored, Dawn says they will last for years... hers is that gorgeous one at the top.

Though my own heritage is Mexican, Dia De Los Muertos is not a tradition we celebrated in our family. For me, these sugar skulls are a craft, and I add a reverent nod for the respect it is meant to symbolize, the remembrances of loved ones who have died. The history of Dia De Los Muertos is fascinating... the marriage of cultures, faiths, and art. Now that we have dabbled in this art... maybe in the spring we can try our hand at decorating sugar eggs!


warren said...

These are so cool! I think sugar skulls are among my favorite of all...well, things. I am not prone to tattoos for instance, but if I were to get one, it would, without a doubt, be a sugar skull. Anyhow, I def will look at the links you provide. Seems like a cool and fun craft!

Suki Berry said...

Those kids made some pretty sweet sugar skulls.
I reaaaallly wanna try this!

Rebekka said...

So super cool and looks super fun. Love it!

judy in ky said...

I love the creativity of these kids.

Anonymous said...

"Jinx! You owe me a coke!" I happened to be in our local Halloween shop looking for wax lips, and lo and behold, there were packages of marshmallow skulls. Certainly not as creative or colorful as yours, but they made me smile because I had just read your post a couple hours earlier. How's that for coincidence?


Dawn said...

Suki, they are doing this at Encinitas Library Nov 1! I may be there helping... Dawn