Sugar skulls made using granulated sugar, meringue powder, and water are hardened then decorated with colorful royal icing to be placed on an altar for the Day of the Dead.
Mix the sugar, meringue powder and water together until the sugar holds together when squeezed. If the sugar is too loose add a bit more water.
Fill both the front and back of the skull mold with the wet sugar compacting it tightly so that there are no air holes. Scrape off the excess so that the tops are flat.
Cut some parchment paper and cardboard so that they are a bit bigger than the skull mold. Set the parchment paper over top of the mold then set the cardboard on top of the parchment paper. Grab onto the mold and cardboard, and carefully flip them upside down and set on the counter. Carefully lift the mold up off the sugar skulls. The mold should come right off. If the sugar sticks, it's too wet. Scrape it out of the mold, clean the mold, and add some more dry sugar to the mixture and try molding it again. If your sugar skulls do not hold together you will need to add a bit more water.
Allow your sugar skulls to dry for at least 6 hours before flipping them over so that the other side can dry as well. Let them dry a minimum of 12 hours.
Make royal icing by whisking the water and meringue powder then adding the powdered sugar and almond extract and beating until it begins to loose it's shine.
Spread a thin layer of royal icing on the flat part of the back side of each skull. Press the front and back sides together. Use your finger to wipe off the icing that oozes out from in between the two pieces. Allow the icing to dry for at least an hour before decorating your skulls.
Color the royal icing using food coloring then spoon into pastry bags fitted with small round tips.
Pipe royal icing onto the skulls creating any designs you like.
Allow the icing to dry for several hours before using them to decorate your Day of the Dead altar.