This newsletter will arrive with you around a very special date in the Mexican calendar: Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos. This is a celebration that takes place over the same period as Halloween and it is very special. Many Mexican people still have the belief that during this period, the souls of friends and family come back to spend some time with us. People create colourful altars for the occasion and cemeteries get full with entire families who go and honour the deceased members of their families. During this time people share food and memories and it is a very nice time in which people get out of the busyness of the everyday and share a little time together. Part of the celebration is the decorating of the houses and cemeteries and for this purpose people make skulls out of sugar, amaranth and even chocolate. If you saw the last of the James Bond films, you will get a picture of what I am talking about. Below is a picture of a Mexican home with sugar skulls:

How does this relate to food? Well this month we want to tell you how to make these beautiful skulls to decorate your house at this time. These are not edible as they are only sugar but they are very pretty.

I hope you'll get inspired and make some sugar skulls, they are very simple and a great activity to do with the children.

Ingredients:

  • One packet of ready to roll royal icing sugar
  • Tubes of coloured icing sugar
  • Sequins
  • Any colourful decoration, paper, chocolate beads
  • Toothpicks

Although many people recommend you use a mould, I remember that at home in Mexico we did not do that. All you need to do is to roll a piece of icing sugar (about 1 inch in diameter) into a ball and then stretch it to look like a skull, leave a flat bottom so the skull has a base to rest on.

If possible, make your sugar skulls on a very dry day. If it is too humid outside, they may not dry well. If you do have trouble getting your skulls to dry and harden, try putting them in a warm oven for two hours or so.

Lightly spritz sugar with water if sugar gets too dry while working.

For the larger skulls, scoop out some of the front and back pieces to make the finished skull lighter. First, let the skull dry for a couple of hours; then, use your fingers or a spoon to scoop out a hole in each one,

Decorate the eyes with sequins and make nice patterns using the coloured icing. Leave to dry.