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Sugar Skulls and Pan de Muertos
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Sugar Skulls

3 cups granulated sugar

1 large egg white

In a bowl, combine sugar and egg white. Blend with your fingers.

Pack sugar mixture firmly into front and back halves of a plastic skull mold. Scrape tops level with a spatula. Return extra sugar mixture to bowl.

With a spoon, gently scoop sugar mixture from the center of each mold to make a shell 1/2- to 5/8-inch thick.

Invert a baking sheet over each mold; holding mold and pan together, invert again. Tap mold gently and lift carefully off sugar skull. If skull breaks, wash and dry mold, then fill again, reusing sugar mixture.

If mixture sticks to mold, dump back into bowl and stir in 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar; if mixture crumbles, return to bowl and mix in more egg white, 1 teaspoon at a time.

Repeat, using remaining sugar mixture, to make a second skull if desired.

Bake in a 200 degrees regular or convection oven until skull surface feels hard and solid when lightly pressed, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool.

To join front and back halves of each skull, spread rims with icing (recipe follows) and fit pieces together; rub off any icing that oozes from seam. Let stand until icing is firm, at least 1 hour.

Using a pastry bag with plain or decorative tips, pipe icing onto skulls to decorate as desired. Let dry at least 1 hour. To store, wrap airtight.


In a bowl, with a mixer on high speed, whip 1 large egg white and 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually beat in 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.

For intense colors, blend in food coloring paste as desired. For delicate shades, use liquid food coloring.

If necessary, beat in more powdered sugar to make icing stiff enough to hold its shape when squeezed through a pastry bag.

Makes about 3/4 cup, enough to join and decorate one or two skulls.


Pan de Muertos

1/4 cup margarine

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup warm water

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons anise seed

1/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons orange zest

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon orange zest

2 tablespoons white sugar

Heat the milk and the butter together in a medium saucepan, until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and add them to warm water. The mixture should be around 110 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Beat in the warm milk mixture. Add eggs and orange zest and beat until well combined.

Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and continue adding more flour until the dough is soft.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This will take about 1 to 2 hours. Punch the dough down and shape it into a large round loaf with a round knob on top.

Place dough onto a baking sheet, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until just about doubled in size.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven. Let cool slightly then brush with glaze.


In a small saucepan combine the 1/4 cup sugar, orange juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes.

Brush over top of bread while still warm. Sprinkle glazed bread with white sugar.


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