The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
Mexican Sugar Skulls
Food and Drink
Mexican Sugar Skulls are a traditional confection and folk art used to celebrate the Days of the Dead. Their name describes them exactly—packed, hardened sugar molded into the shape of skulls, then decorated with vividly colored icing, bright bits of colored foil, sequins, and/or colored sugar. The name of the loved one they are intended to honor is traditionally piped over the forehead with icing. Most sugar skulls are tiny although larger ones exist too.
Sugar skulls are sold as treats for children during the weeks leading up to the festival. (Providing nothing inedible is used to ornament them, sugar skulls are edible but very sweet!) They are also used to decorate the home altars (ofrendas) that welcome the visiting souls of the dead. Sugar skulls are carried to the cemetery with flowers and other objects used to decorate tombs.
Mexican sugar skulls are not hard to make: requirements are sugar, meringue powder, water, and special skull molds. Blend one teaspoon of meringue powder into each cup of granulated sugar used. (Meringue powder is a must and cannot be omitted.) A little bit of water is then used to moisten the blended sugar so that it achieves the texture of beach sand. This is then added to the molds and allowed to dry for approximately eight hours, after which the skulls may be decorated as desired.
Meringue powder and skull molds in various sizes are available from www.MexicanSugarSkull.com. Further information, ingredients (including the Royal Icing and colored sugar favored in Mexico), and beautiful images of Mexican sugar skulls and other traditional crafts may also be found at that website.