Sugar skulls are one of the most popular aspects of Dia de Los Muertos, with their colorful, flowery decorations.
Although you can find "sugar skull" art made of everything from paper mache to metal to fabric, real sugar skulls are literally made of sugar -- in Mexico and some neighborhoods in the U.S., they're sold as holiday snacks and decorations.
They're also super easy and fun to make! Look for plastic skull molds in craft stores, or purchase the molds online. Meringue powder is available at some supermarkets and craft stores in the baking section, and can also be used to make the royal icing without raw egg.
Materials for Skulls
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 tbsp meringue powder
Royal icing (see below)
Gel food coloring
Zip-top sandwich bags
Candy sprinkles (optional)
Helpful Hint: Do not use gel icing on sugar skulls. It's much too wet and will melt into the sugar. Royal icing dries hard, so you handle them without ruining the design.
Royal Icing Recipe
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon meringue powder
1 tablespoon water
Royal Icing Directions
Beat together the powdered sugar, meringue powder and water with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
Combine the sugar and meringue powder in a small bowl.
Drizzle about 1 tbsp of water over the mixture, and mix it with your hands until all of the sugar is just moistened, but not wet.
Press the sugar into the molds.
Invert the molds onto a clean, flat surface. Allow the skulls to dry for 24 hours.
Tint the royal icing with gel food coloring to make as many colors as you like. Place each color in a zip-top sandwich bag.
Snip a very tiny hole in one corner of each bag.
Pipe the royal icing onto the skulls to decorate. If you like, you can add embellishments such as shaped candy sprinkles.
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