Horrific Snacks: Skull Cakes

SugarSkullbananaNutHeadTonight, the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers gather for an evening of crappy holiday-themed horror movies. We mock, chat… and snack. Last year, I brought a cheese ball shaped (more or less) like HellRaiser’s Pinhead and Elsa brought a pan of severed fingers that tasted oddly like pigs in a blanket. For this year’s party, Elsa and I whipped up a couple skull cakes. Skull Cakes? I grabbed the last two skull pans at Williams-Sonoma in the Hallowe’en sales. I put them both to good use and made two different kinds of skull: a Bone-White Sugar Skull and a Banana Nut Head.

Sugar Skull White Cake:
I should level with y’all: I hate white cake. It’s about the most boring dessert around IMHO, but when I thought skull cake, I thought bone-white so I opted for the palest pre-packaged white cake mix at the mega-mart. Honestly though, I didn’t think this through. It’s only the center of a white cake that is actually white; the outside is golden brown. To liven it up a bit, I decided to douse it with a bit of “holiday cheer” and decorate it like a Day of the Dead sugar skull. Still, it was just a white cake…


The Box Recipe called for three egg whites, 1/3 cup of cooking oil and 1 & 1/4 cups of water. (Note to self: next time experiment substituting white rum instead of the water.) The skull pan can produce a full skull but each half requires a box of mix. I didn’t really want to end up with that much white cake so I decided to make only the face. The next time, I wonder if some kind of jelly center could be baked into the skull for a gory surprise when serving.

Sugar Skull baking along side the Banana Nut Head... two heads are YUMMIER than one

Sugar Skull baking along side the Banana Nut Head… two heads are YUMMIER than one

Banana Nut Head
The Banana Nut Head used a recipe that Elsa’s family literally brought back from Bermuda more than three decades ago, possibly one crafted by a real witch-doctor… though more probably just one inscribed on a souvenir cutting board. Whatever its mysterious origins, Bermuda Banana Bread is a solid and easy recipe, one that’s made good use of our too-ripe bananas for years.

The ingredients are added in this order: 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, three eggs, three or more bananas crushed, a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in a little water, 2 cups of flour, and 1/4 cup of chopped nuts. Next mix until combined, and then bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

The secret ingredient for “party” banana bread (as opposed to what we usually eat) was a 1/4 cup of brandy poured over the cooled head as it sat in a deep dish. Don’t let its comparatively plain appearance fool you; of the pair, this head smelled the most delicious.

Watch for more posts on future cranial culinary exploits. I don’t see the Skull Cake phenomena ever getting old!

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