Thursday, 1 November 2012

How to: Day of the Dead sugar skull biscuits

Day of the Dead sugar skull cookies, as baked by EJ
Happy Day of the Dead! (I'm not even sure if you are supposed to say that?) According to Wikipedia, Day of the Dead (or Dia de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday held on 1st November which focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember those who have died. This has always seemed fitting to me, as 17 years ago today my grandfather died. Even though we didn't have the closest relationship, I always think of him on 1st November. Traditionally, sugar skulls are placed on alters alongside food and drink for the weary spirits who have descended to reunite with their families.

I've been wanting to make some kind of sugar skull cakes or cookies for while now and a Halloween bake sale at work this week gave me the perfect excuse. My original plan was to dabble with royal icing, unfortunately, being in-between living situations and not having a kitchen on my own has made keeping up with my baking plans tricky - but as soon as I have my own kitchen again I will be experimenting with royal icing to the MAX.

I found these ace cookie cutters at the cakes cookies and crafts shop ( on special offer - 4 for 3):

and baked some sugar skull cookies using this Martha Stewart recipe - which was brilliant, the cookies kept their shape perfectly while they baked (always go for a sugar cookie recipe for this kind of bake- and always chill the cut shapes before baking so that they don't spread too much).

I used the same skull cutter to cut skull shapes out of ready to roll white icing (dust the surface and your rolling pin with a little icing sugar to prevent it sticking):

Then glue the icing to the top of the cooled biscuits using a little writing icing:

I used these fantastic cake decorators pens to decorate the surface of the icing skulls:

As I had just rolled out and cut the icing, it was still quite soft, so I had to be very gentle with the pens. (I'd recommend leaving the icing skulls to sit out for a while so that they harden slightly before you start drawing if you can).

I started each skull by drawing the eyes, nose and mouth and then added the detail around these features.

I'll definitely be attempting the royal icing version of these soon, but I'm impressed at the results from the cake decorator pens and will be using them again.


  1. How beautiful! where did you get the pens from? They look amazing.

    Stephanie @ Riverside Baking

  2. Amazing! Spooky, beautiful and (I've no doubt) delicious :)

  3. These are amazing! I love all things skull related so when I saw these I was very excited! It also reminded me I've got a teapot cookie cutter that I bought ages ago so will have to give this recipe a go. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Thanks ladies :) I had a lot of fun making these! Stephanie the pens are from