Sugar Skulls are a traditional folk art from Central and Southern Mexico used to celebrate Day of the Dead. Mounds of colorful sugar skulls are sold by vendors in the village open air markets during the week preceding Day of the Dead. Increasing numbers of non-traditional colorful candies such as decorated chocolate skulls and other Halloween candies are now competing with the traditional sugar skulls, which are becoming harder and harder to find in Southern Mexico.
Our line of chocolate molds can be made with tempered chocolate, candy coating wafers, melted chocolate chips or our traditional granulated sugar skull recipe.
History of Chocolate
Cacao is indigenous to Mexico & Central America. By 1000 A.D., the huge cacao seeds were used as money and traded between the Mayans and Aztecs. Cacao was first cultivated in plantations in the Yucatan peninsula. During Aztec times, cacao was made into a bitter hot drink using water instead of milk. It was consumed exclusively by the Aztec leaders. They believed it had aphrodisiac qualities and Emperor Montezuma was known to drink up to 50 golden goblets full a day.
Seeds were ground with stones, spices like chile powder & corn meal were added to the clay cooking vessels and the mixture was whipped and frothed with hand carved wooden sticks called molinillos.
Hernan Cortez was introduced to xocolatl by the Aztec emperor Moctezuma in the 1519 and was quite impressed with it. He brought the huge cacao seeds back to the Spanish King Charles V where eventually, sugar was added to the recipe and chocolate began to charm the world.
Spicy Aztec Xocolatl (Chocolate)
If you'd like to share this ancient Aztec tradition with your love, here's an adaptation you'll be sure to enjoy.
It's easy to make spicy Aztec hearts or skulls from our chocolate molds with the recipes below. To any of the three recipes, add the following spices to the melted chocolate, stir, and pour into the heart shaped molds. Remember, use high quality, fresh spices in order to get the aromatic benefit of the recipe - add extra spices if you really want to kindle passion and desire. Cuidado!
Add: 1/8 teaspoon pasilla* (ancho) chile powder
1/4 teaspoon good quality cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
pinch of fresh ground black pepper
* Cayenne Pepper, black pepper, chile powder or chipotle chile powder may be substituted for pasilla, but pasilla is best and may be found in the spice aisle of many fine grocers or my favorite spice shops: Penzys.com for the Vietnamese cinnamon and GourmetSleuth.com for the pasilla chile power.
CANDY COATING WAFERS are an easy to use, microwavable, meltable chocolate that is available at your hobby or cake decorating shop. (Cello bags & sticks too) It uses paraffin to harden the white or dark chocolate discs. Some taste better than others. Do not cut your mold apart. Melt 1-1/4 cups of wafers in a Pyrex bowl in the microwave, stir, (add optional spices) and fill the candy mold skull indentations, neatly with a spoon. Knock filled mold on counter to settle chocolate and let air bubbles escape. Place in freezer for 30 minutes, then pop out like ice cubes.
CHOCOLATE CHIPS Do not cut mold apart. Melt 1-1/4 cups non-tempered chocolate bars or chips (we prefer a yellow bag) in the microwave for 1 minute, then stir with a chopstick or wooden spoon. Heat another 10 seconds if necessary to melt thoroughly. (Add optional spices) Spoon into skull indentations, neatly. Drop and knock mold on counter top to remove air bubbles. Place in freezer for 30 minutes, then pop out like ice cubes. Non-tempered chocolate skulls are messy, melt easily & develops "bloom" as the cocoa butter surfaces. Very important to refrigerate this kind of chocolate in plastic covered boxes, layered with plastic wrap to reduce exposure to humidity. Serve within 24 hours, directly from refrigerator! Chocolate skull novios look great wrapped in large 6"x6" colored tin foil squares!
TEMPERED CHOCOLATE is too complicated to explain here! If you're interested in professional chocolate making and using the necessary equipment, please check the Internet or buy a chocolate candy recipe book. Add cinnamon, coffee, vanilla, pecans or pasilla chile powder for that special Oaxacan flavor.
About our Skull Molds
Many of our mold designs were inspired by the famous Mexican woodcut artist, Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852 -1913). We hope you enjoy making these sugar skulls for your family, friends, Day-of-the-Dead parties, wedding showers & receptions.
Bride & Grooms ("novios" in Spanish) are a popular theme for Day-of-the-Dead, as marriage is a big part of the circle of life. Our Novio designs make great chocolate wedding favors. The Lollipops can be made with 2 colors of chocolate candy coating, covered with a cello bag, and tied up with festive ribbons. Novio Bars can be wrapped in bright colors of tin foil and sealed with a custom sticker naming the Bride & Groom and wedding date.
Sugar Skull Recipe
Inedible folk art decorations only
Just in case someone wants to make the Novios with the sugar skull mix, here's the recipe, but they are much better made in chocolate as the fine detail is hard to decorate. Step-by-step instructions and conversion tables are given in our Sugar Skull Making Instructions.
Mix together well
1 teaspoon Meringue Powder for every cup of granulated sugar used
Sprinkle sugar mixture with 1 teaspoon water per cup of sugar used (For example: 4 cups sugar, 4 teaspoons of meringue powder then mix with 4 teaspoons of water.)
Mix well with hands until every bit of sugar is moistened (about 5 minutes). If your fingerprints remain when you squeeze the sugar in your hand, it is ready to mold. It should feel like "beach sand." Meringue powder is a "Must" and cannot be omitted.
Cut the card of skulls apart with scissors, making sure to leave at least a 1" margin around the skulls.
Mound sugar into mold and pack mixture FIRMLY into mold.
Use a straight edge (or cardboard square) to scrape off the sugar until the back is absolutely flat.
Place a stiff cardboard rectangle over mold and invert immediately.
Lift mold off carefully.
Air dry for approximately 8 hours.
When completely dry, continue decorating your skulls with colored Royal Icing, sequins, glitter & colored foils. Do not eat sugar skulls decorated with inedible items!
Beat with an electric/stand mixer until icing peaks (about 9 minutes!)
Keep in a tightly covered container. DO NOT REFRIGERATE.
Royal icing is a cement type icing. It isn't very tasty, but it is strong, dries pretty and lasts. Use ONLY concentrated paste food colorings - not liquid food coloring from the grocery store! Mix icing with paste food color in disposable cups, then fill disposable plastic pastry bags no more than 1/4 full. For decorating mini skulls, make exceptionally tiny snips in the tip of icing bag.