Texas Living

Chocolate Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls


In Mexican culture, Halloween is about so much more than free candy and spooky costumes. It marks the eve of an important holiday on which families honor their loved ones who have passed away.

According to tradition, at midnight on Oct. 31, the gates between worlds open and spirits of deceased children are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. That makes the Day of the Dead, Nov. 1, a time of both remembrance and celebration.

Among the most popular ways to celebrate is to create a sugar skull—a colorful piece of art decorated with icing, foils, and other delights and often including the names of deceased family members. While sugar skulls are generally decorative, this recipe is a chocolate—and very edible—version.

There is no one way to decorate your sugar skull. Try designs that remind you of the spirit and character of someone in your family who has passed away; traditionally, skulls are often dedicated to a deceased loved one. Channel your creative spirit by incorporating other materials, such as glitter or gold foil, into the design.


  • 1 1⁄2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Gel food coloring


  • Melt chocolate chips in the microwave in 30-second intervals.
  • Spoon chocolate into a sugar skull mold, making sure every groove is filled.
  • Gently tap the mold to remove air bubbles.
  • Refrigerate until solid, at least 1 hour.
  • Whisk meringue powder into water until dissolved and frothy.
  • Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until icing can hold shape.
  • Separate and tint icing with gel food coloring of your choice.
  • Place each icing color into corners of plastic bags and twist bags until closed.
  • Make a small cut in the corner of each bag to draw on your skulls with icing.
  • Remove skulls from mold and decorate!
  • Let icing harden at room temperature or refrigerate for around 15 minutes.

Sugar skulls aren’t the only food-related tradition Texas has inherited from Mexican culture. See our recipe for Christmas Eve tamales.

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