Every year as Dia De Los Muertos nears, I swear to myself that it will be the year I make a calavera from scratch. Calaveras are sugar skulls that can be eaten and placed on altars. They’re synonymous with Dia De Los Muertos!
When considering making them, I always thought it would be too daunting, and I somehow talked myself out of the process by assuming the sugar wouldn’t stick in order to form the skull. This year, I told myself no more excuses. I looked online for a mold and found a good one at Mexican Sugar Skull. I ordered it, followed the directions on how to make the calavera, and decorated my skulls as I wished.
I made a bunch of them, and called over a few friends and my mom to have a decorating party. As we decorated our skulls, we talked about the loved ones we have lost over the years, and how we felt about the loss, what we missed about each of them. We shared our stories over laughs, tears and royal icing.
You will need a skull mold to get started.
DIY Sugar Skulls
For sugar skulls / calavera:
- granulated sugar
- meringue powder
I used 6 cups of granulated sugar, 6 teaspoons of meringue powder, and 6 teaspoons of water for my calaveras. It made 5 large skulls total. Slightly bigger then my fist.
For royal icing:
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 6 tablespoons warm water
Other supplies you may use:
- colored foil paper
- soda pop tops
- For every cup of granulated sugar use 1 teaspoon of meringue powder and 1 teaspoon water.
- First mix dry ingredients together … granulated sugar and meringue powder.
- Then sprinkle with water. The mixture should feel like beach sand.
- Firmly pack sugar into mold. Using a knife scrape the back of the sugar mold for an even back. Then add in a few more pinches with your finger tips.
- Invert the mold onto a hard surface. Use a paper plate or card board piece.
- Let the skulls dry for 6 to 7 hours.
- Once the skulls are hard enough to touch, use a spoon and scoop out the middle. Leaving a 1/2 inch thick wall around the edge. (make more calaveras with extra sugar)
- Let the hollowed skulls dry for an additional 12 hours.
- Then make royal icing by mixing powdered sugar, meringue powder, and warm water together. It will form a thick paste. Divide the icing into separate bowls and color with concentrated paste food coloring of your choice. I made six different colors. Then place the colors in disposable piping bags fitted with a decorative metal tip.
- Then using a white royal icing trace along the lines of the two pieces of skull that come together. Avoid piping the neck with royal icing.
- Align the two pieces together and allow to dry before decorating.
- Decorate the face any way you like.