Skull-A-Day 4.0 - Tutorial - #22 Sugar Skull Cookies

I know this is another baking one, but I wanted to make a sugar skull, but in cookie form. Dia de los Muertos is in 4 days, so I thought this was an appropriate time to make these.

I have to thank my dad for helping me with this one. Many years ago, he made my mom and me custom heart shaped cookie cutters for Valentine's Day cookies. I couldn't find the skull shape I wanted and also, I wanted these cookies to be 100% one of a kind. He made the cookie cutters out of aluminum, tiny nuts and tiny bolts, based off of skulls I drew for this project. I made skull shapes using the Paint program on my computer (circle for the top, square for the jaw and curved lines for the cheek area) and emailed them to him. He used aluminum sheeting and as he likes to say, some "elbow grease", to make the cookie cutters. He made me 2 different sizes based off of the 2 skulls I sent him. 1 is a HUGE cookie and the other is still a relatively large one. I should keep scale in mind next time I want custom cookie cutters. The total cost was under $2 and he still has plenty of extra supplies left.

These are the templates I made for him to go by. If you would like to make your own in the same shape, click on the template images and a to scale skull will show. Bend your aluminum strips to match the shape of this skull. This is the general method for making any shape cookie cutter that uses a template as a guide

Finished cookie cutters. The large one is about the size of my joke.

For the cookies, I used a sugar cookie recipe. I don't recall ever making sugar cookies with a recipe, so this was an interesting and messy experience. However, the difficulty was my fault for making such large cookie cutter patterns...oops. Smaller ones would probably distort less. I did make it easier by covering my work surface with clear plastic wrap. I sprinkled flour on the plastic and the small rolling pin. After rolling out the dough and using the cookie cutter to cut out a skull shape, I pulled the excess dough away from around the cutter and put that excess back in the bowl. I removed the cookie cutter. I laid my floured right hand on top of the cookie, slipped my left hand under the plastic and flipped the cookie over into my right hand. Then, I flipped the cookie back over onto the aluminum foil covered cookie sheet. I adjusted the shape a bit, so it looked nice and not warped. I rolled the excess dough back out, so I could cut more cookies out. I used a separate cookie sheet for the small cookies, so I didn't risk them touching. Using the aluminum foil helps with clean up and easy cookie removal. You don't have the same sticking issue as you can get with cookies baking directly on the pan. After baking and cooling, you can lift up the cooled aluminum and peel it away from each cookie.

Large skull cookie.
Two small skulls made with cookie cutters and two shaped ones...because I didn't want to keep rolling out dough to make more.

For the icing, I used a sugar cookie icing recipe. I added more light corn syrup to the recipe than called for. The recommended amount made the icing too thick. I added a little bit and stirred...added a little bit and stirred...until I got a consistency I was happy with. This icing is self leveling, so I just dropped it on with a spoon and smoothed it until the cookie was evenly covered. Since it is self leveling, some icing will run off the edges, this is ok. While it is still wet, you can scoop it up and put it on another cookie.

For the decoration, I used writing gel icing. It comes in packs of 4 colors in tubes. I find it easy to work with because it's fluid and the you can control the size of the opening by how far back you cut the tip. You can use shaped sprinkles pushed into the gel icing, as decorations too. This is great if you are not comfortable with free-handing a design. I realized after I started decorating with it, that I might have bough gel food coloring instead of the correct icing. Thankfully, I do have some of the correct icing at the house, so the large one I make for my dad, will have icing he can eat. I haven't decorated the smaller skulls yet. I figured Alex and I could do that after school tomorrow...with the correct icing.

My dad as a full beard and mustache, so that is what I was going for with this decoration. However, since it's the wrong kind of icing, I'll make him another one with the correct icing. Still, I like the over all design of this one. I wish the icing was right, because all of the colors would be really bright and pretty...and yummy.

Ok, that is all for now. Happy cookie making!


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