Feliz Día de los Muertos!
It's Day of the Dead here in our state that borders Mexico, and it's one of my favorite holidays. It's also one of Tucson's favorite holidays and tonight there is the All Souls Procession; a parade type celebration full of moving altars, floats, drum groups, and catrina costumes- all lead by an enormous urn filled with letters to the dead. They expect 50,000 people to attend and it's a beautiful sight to behold. At the end of the procession, there is a finale full of acrobatics 3 stories in the air, music, and the lighting of the urn while it suspends hundreds of feet above the crowd. Quite magical.
Día de los Muertos is all about remembering and celebrating those who have passed on, and this year I am keeping my very first love Derek close to my heart. He died in a motorcycle crash last August, and though we went through several parts of hell in our 3 year relationship, he has played a significant role in creating who I am today. Our best selves connected on a transformative level; I loved him so! I wrote a little about him in the post "The Week I Cut My Finger on the Circus Train." He was a force to be reckoned with, to say the least.
My dear friend Pami sent me these killer cupcake molds, and I knew in a heartbeat that they needed to be transformed into sugar skulls. Brains are cool and all, but flower headdresses are better. Amiright or amiright?
The process was simple:
1.) Bake the skull molds 2/3rds full of your favorite white cake recipe. This one is a simple and delicious!
2.) Make a shit ton of buttercream. I've used this recipe for years:
1 c softened butter
4 c powdered sugar
2 T milk or cream
Using a mixer with the paddle attachment, whip the butter until its fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and continue to mix on high speed for a full minute. If you would like it to be softer, add in the milk or cream. Add a vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract if you're feeling fancy.
3.) Soften a little white frosting until it's super pliable. I microwaved the frosting for a few seconds until it was in-between totally solid and pretty much melted. You don't want it melted. Just easy to mold. Cover the tops with this, pushing it down to the top of the skulls.
4.) Make kick ass frosting flowers! If you've never made buttercream flowers before, it's cool. Drop flowers are the easiest and there is a great tutorial here. Marigolds are traditional flowers for this holiday and I found Wiltons explanation here. If you've never made roses before watch this guy. It's actually quite simple! NOW. The secret is to make the flowers on some sort of parchment, tinfoil or plastic wrap. After piping them, stick them in the freezer until they are totally solid. Only then can you move them easily onto the tops of the cupcakes. You can use a little left over frosting as "glue" to adhere the flowers if needed.
Do you celebrate Día de los Muertos? If so, who are you remembering? If you don't celebrate it yet, I still want to know who you would like to remember today along with the rest of us.
Today we celebrate the dead while we celebrate being alive.
It's the perfect balance, and I'm so happy it's a part of my life!