The origin of Sugar skulls date back over 2,000 years in Mexico
Eventually, the skulls began to be used in the “tzompantli”, altar used by Aztecs.
For the Aztecs, death was considered as the conclusion of a stage of life that extended to another level, so it was common to keep skulls as trophies and show them during the rituals that symbolized the end of that cycle.
Its altar called “tzompantli”, was adorned with skulls skewered through holes that were made to their sides, and which were of those who had been sacrificed in honor of the gods; so also the image of the face of the lord of the underworld and the dead, Mictlantecuhtli, were common in the life of these ancient cultures.
on the arrival and conquest of the Spaniards; as the rituals of the Mesoamericans went against the mandates of the Catholic religion, they were banned, but in many cases and in the face of the resistance of the indigenous peoples to eliminate them, they had to be replaced by others.
The coincidence of the celebration of the dead by the ancient Mexican peoples with the Day of the Dead Faithful of the Spanish, allowed changes and adaptations, one of them being the sugar skulls.
The candy skulls are made with a technique brought by the Spaniards called alfeñique, which is a kind of caramel formed from pure cane sugar; with which a very moldable paste is made, obtaining a variety of figures.
The states that carry out the original recipe of the alfeñique are Guanajuato, Morelos and the State of Mexico, the latter being one of the most important in the production of the sweet, to such an extent that it has its own Annual Alfeñique Fair.
Nowadays ingredients have been added to the original recipe, so we find sugar skulls made with amaranth or chocolate, in addition to that each state of the Mexican Republic has a different way of making alfeñiques, for example in Puebla they complement the sweet with peanuts or nuggets, meanwhile in Oaxaca, they add honey in the center, while in the State of Mexico they are made from almond paste.
To prepare the traditional calaveritas, hot sugar is mixed with a little lemon, which melts to form a liquid mass, which is emptied into a mold to give the shape of a skull.
Once completely dry; the icing sugar is given a vegetal color and with this the skull is painted, details such as the rings in the eyes, spirals in the upper part of the skull, large eyelashes and smile are added, not forgetting the person’s name the one that is destined; This is written on the top of the skull or on what would be the forehead.
Thus, with these candy skulls we not only remember our fragility and those who have already advanced us, they are also tasty sweets that keep our Mexican traditions in force.
Recipe of sugar skulls with vanilla, to place on your altar of the dead
1 tablespoon corn honey
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 egg white
2 cups of icing sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
Edible vegetable colors that you can get in raw material stores.
A balloon whisk.
A very fine hole strainer.
1 glass or plastic bowl
A fine brush
A plastic container with its lid (take care that it closes very well).
- In the bowl mix the honey, vanilla and egg white, stirring gently with the balloon whisk.
- Pass the icing sugar through the strainer and place it on the previous mixture, mix everything again and knead until it forms a ball.
- On a flat and clean table or surface, sprinkle some cornstarch and spread the dough until it is smooth and manageable (such as tortilla dough).
- With the dough form small skulls and let them dry on the table for three hours.
- Dissolve the plant colors separately and now with the help of the brush decorate your skulls.
- When your skulls are completely dry, store them in the plastic container and cover them very well. Keep them in a dry and cool place, like the cupboard of your house.
Sugar and Chocolate Skulls
To perform these crafts, you need to ask your parents for help.
3/4 kilo of white sugar.
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar.
1/4 of a liter of water
2 egg whites.
Tin paper of various colors.
Waxed paper to make duyas or cones to decorate.
Molds to make the skulls.
You heat a bowl with water and sugar, move constantly until the sugar dissolves. When it starts to boil, count 15 minutes and remove the mixture from the heat, continue beating until it changes its color to white.
Start filling the molds through the hole, after joining them with garters; When they are full, place them up.
When the molds are warm and the sugar inside is curdled, take the molds, soak them in water and take them out right away.
Remove the garters and remove the molds. Put the skulls to drain and dry on a tray.
For the decoration, duyas or cones are made with waxed paper.
Beat the two egg whites, add glass sugar until a soft paste forms and also a few drops of lemon.
Pour this mixture into 4 or 5 small dishes and put a few drops of the colors you prefer.
Fill each cone with a color, cut the tip taking care that there is a small exit and decorate the skull.
Then decorate the skull with scraps of tin paper.
Finally name each one, with the help of the brush and the vegetable color; Choose your friends, schoolmates or family members.
Milk chocolate for pastries.
Skull shaped molds.
2 egg whites.
Melt the chocolate in a water bath, moving gently with a wooden shovel.
The chocolate is emptied into the mold and allowed to dry.
Way to make the decoration
You can make the duyas or cones with perfectly clean plastic.
Lightly beat the egg whites, add glass sugar until a soft paste forms and also a few drops of lemon.
This mixture is divided into several equal parts, according to the number of colors you will use.
Fill each duya (plastic bag) with a color, cut the tip taking care that there is a very small exit and decorate the skulls to your liking.
You can use the duya to name each skull.