Photographer's Note

The Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico on November 2nd. It is a time when Mexican families spend time at the cemetery, visiting the graves of their relatives, cleaning and perhaps painting the headstones, arranging flowers, especially flowers of the dead and lighting candles.
Shops are filled with fanciful confections such as small sugar skeletons and skulls.It is not a time of mourning but a time for celebrating the life of the departed and the joy that they brought to their families and others who knew them.The "calaveras" are decorated with a kind of colored icing for hair ans eyes. Names can be added to the skull and Mexican children often exchange named skulls with their friends.
CAUTION: Do not make sugar skulls on a rainy or high humidity day. They will not turn out.
Most often found in the shape of skulls, they can also be formed into lambs, fruits, donkeys, and doves, and are decorated with brightly colored sugar icing and sequins.
You can also make sugar skulls by pouring a boiled sugar and water syrup into plastic skull-shaped molds, but as those may be hard to find on short notice and in many areas, this recipe requires only your hands and a bit of artistic skill.
Makes about 8 sugar skulls.
For skulls:1 TB powdered egg white
3/4 cup water
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup light corn syrup
8 cups powdered sugar
2 cups cornstarch
For Icing:
1/2 tsp powdered egg white
3 TB water
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 drops red food coloring
2 drops cinnamon extract
3 drops blue food coloring
2 drops peppermint extract
metal sequins for decorating eyes
Directions:Whisk powdered egg white and water together until foamy. Add vanilla extract and corn syrup. Whisk until blended. Add powdered sugar. With a spoon, and then by hand, mix until a firm paste forms.Dust a jelly roll pan with 1 cup of the cornstarch. Knead sugar paste in cornstarch for a few minutes until it becomes smooth and pliable. Roll the dough into a ball. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it until chilled.
Begin by forming dough into round balls, each about the size of a small fist. Use more cornstarch to prevent sticking, if needed.
Use your hands to sculpt the ball into a skull shape. Sculpt eye and nose hollows with your thumbs or a blunt knife.
To prepare the icing, whisk powdered egg white and water together until foamy. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Divide mixture into two small bowls. Add red food coloring and cinnamon extract to one and blue food coloring and peppermint extract to the other. Mix to blend the colors in each bowl.Fill two pastry bags with icing mixtures. Decorate skulls with icing. Allow objects to dry. Weather conditions affect drying times. Skulls may take anywhere from several hours to 48 hours to fully dry.

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Additional Photos by Kris Verhoeven (verswe) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 61 W: 3 N: 1206] (7330)
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