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"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Sugar Skull Soul Cakes at Teatime

During the Middle Ages in England, on the night before All Saints Day, or Hallowmas, pesants and children called "soulers" would go about town singing and praying for the souls of the dead. They would stop at homes and beg for a "soul cake" and promise in return to pray for the household's deceased family members...the original Halloween treat! (source) 
Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and around the world in many cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The Sugar Skull Tradition was brought to the New World by Italian missionaries in the 17th century. It became a traditon in Mexico. Mexico, abundant in sugar production and lacking money to buy fancy imported European church decorations at the time, learned quickly from the friars how to make sugar art for their religious festivals.

I decided to do a mix of these two concepts. Using this recipe for Soul Cakes, I added some sugar skulls for decoration. The cakes are a cross between a shortbread and a spice cookie. After they were powdered with sugar, I cemented a skull made of sugar onto the cookie with a little mixture of powdered sugar and vanilla extract; a little like royal icing without the egg whites. The skulls came from Walmart's Halloween section (a little like this.) I had originally thought to decorate them with food pens like Day of the Dead skulls, but I thought that using them as plain decorations bridges Halloween traditions in America with Mexican sugar skull traditions and England's Soul Cakes traditions.

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4 comments:

  1. What a great idea! Those look yummy! I love the little skull candy!

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  2. An interesting history lesson!

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  3. I am book marking this for next year. After talking to one of my adult daughters about "All Hallow's Eve" this year, I realize that I need to spend more time talking to my kids about these things. A tea time treat like this will be a great place to begin.

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  4. Thank you, Phyllis for the link to this post! And for the background you shared about the meaning of the days celebrated this time of year.

    As I mentioned to another friend, I used to be so put off by the whole skull thing until I understood what was behind them. I am going to do a post next year and have stored this post in bookmarkes so i can share it again!

    Now you have me all excited about St Nicholas Day at your house!

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