After the garish plastic skeletons of Halloween are cleared away, something far more haunting, yet entirely joyous remains in their wake. Sugar skulls, glittering sweet crystals dried into the shape of a human head, shine in the dark of night to honor the dearly departed on Día de los Muertos.
When the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31st, deceased loved ones can return and spend the day with their families, drawn to the calavera made in their likeness. Decorated with colored icing, the most basic are technically ghoulish sugar cubes, super-sized for a couple gallons of coffee, but not exactly something you’d want to consume. Most artists incorporate inedible media like feathers, glitter, sequins, foil, and fabric, treating them more like sculpture than food, since there’s no such thing as too colorful nor too flamboyant to match the most vivacious personalities.
Traditionally, the “glue” that binds these sweet offerings together is either egg white or meringue powder, but for a simple veganization, this is another job for aquafaba. Just because you don’t eat it, doesn’t mean you can’t make it cruelty-free, too.
Contrary to the name itself, Día de Muertos is a truly celebration of life. Why not make it a sweet occasion with these sugary monuments, recalling the spirits of those no longer with us?
- 6 Cups Granulated Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Aquafaba
- 4 Cups Confectioner's Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Tapioca Flour
- 1/3 - 1/2 Cup Aquafaba
- Food Coloring, as Desired
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
- Mix the sugar and aquafaba together in a large bowl until it's the consistency of wet sand. Resist the temptation to add more liquid of any sort! It won't quite hold together but should be lightly moistened throughout.
- Press firmly into skull molds of any size or shape. Place in the preheated even and let "bake" lightly for 30 minutes. Do not touch or try to remove them for another hour. The skulls will still be rather fragile, so handle with care.
- To make the icing, simply mix together all of the ingredients, slowly drizzling in the aquafaba until it's thick enough to pour but still hold its shape when piping in a thin line.
- Divide into as many small bowls as you'd like for different colors, apply to your desired intensity, and transfer to squeeze bottles or piping bags.
- Let your inner artist out and adorn your sugar skulls as brightly and brilliantly as you see fit!
- Let the icing dry completely before handling; ideally overnight.
Store in an airtight container or zip-top bag in a dark, dry place to preserve your art for years to come. Just remember, this is to enjoy with your eyes, not your tongue!
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