The Quest to Make Candy Skulls

As I learn more about Dia de los Muertos and more about Halloween, I’m more intrigued to celebrate Dia de los Muertos this year. But like all my other endeavors I can add “making candy skulls” to my long list of misadventures.

Some of you may know that I live in the Valley which is also inhabited by a lot of Hispanics. Yippee! Good culture and good food can be found in these parts than say some other parts of this country. Take a look at one of my favorite grocery stores for example: Rancho Mercardo or Ranch Market.

At Rancho Mercado they have a juice bar. Aquas Frescas translates to Fresh Waters. What it should translate to is fruit waters that are as savory as they are unique. The favorites in this family are: agua de jamaica, limon, sandia and tamarindo. (Translation: juices from the hibiscus flower, lime, watermelon and tamarind.)
Rancho Mercado also has a bakery. Yes, you'll find donuts here but you'll also find much more. Conchas are type of pan dulce or sweet bread (not the sweet breads that you get from animals — bleuch) but a roll with a sugary, colorful exterior. There are various kinds of pan dulces but these are my favorite and I will always prefer them.
Conchas are instant memory food for me. I take a bite and can remember being 8 again, jumping on a giant trampoline with 10 other cousins at my aunt's place at Chapala. As we jumped we ate conchas, one in each hand. It also reminds me that that was the same place where a horse bit my undeveloped chest because there were flowers on my shirt. Stupid horse.
Here's the rest of the bakery. What a feast!
Rancho Mercado also has candy for the little ones. Haven't you had a chili-covered mango lollipop? Then perhaps you should.
They also have chicle. The most savory gum that loses its flavor the more vivaciously you chewed it. And I was, um, am a chomper.
salsas for your tacos
Rancho Mercado also has the best tacos I've ever had in the United States. Now that I no longer eat meat I don't enjoy them anymore, but you should. Allow me to paint a picture: slow roasted meat that then marinates in savory sauces. Meats including carne asada, lengua, pollo, del pastor and more. Then when you receive your 6 or 10 tacos, you'll come here and put as much fixings as you need.

As my Tio Miguel has told me, if you have a great taco than even the sole of your shoe is a delectable meal. Didn’t understand this until I had a good tortilla. Handmade tortilla. But for not being handmade, this tortilla machine cranks out the best tortillas. Ever.

This is a documentary-style blog post. Did I really just got photo-bombed at :13? Yes and no, this isn’t a serious blog post.

Oh, and yes, Rancho Mercado is actually a grocery store. Carrots? No, zanahorias!
Nopales. A vegetable made from the young pad of a prickly pear, carefully peeled to remove the spines, and turned in to delicious Mexican dishes like nopal salad.
Beware of these little, bright peppers. Did you know that the habanero's name is derived from the name of the Cuban city of La Habana, which is known as Havana in English. Although it is not the place of origin, it was frequently traded there. Thanks Wikipedia. I do know that I will not eat these and certainly not without a tall glass of milk at the ready.

Can you guess what Rancho Mercado did not have? Candy Skulls. Ingredients to make candy skulls. Tips on where I could go to find and make candy skulls. I mean, for crying out loud, they have a tortilla-making machine!

I needed about five ingredients. Sugar, meringue powder, food coloring and a skull mold. One was crucial. The mold. I spoke to the woman at the candy store — she didn’t know how I could make it and she didn’t have any to sell to me. I talked to the butcher and the fish monger. Nope and nope. I spoke to the baker who also just ran out of pan de muertos, which would have been great to have in celebration of Dia de los Muertos.

Rancho Mercado, I love you and your fantastic prices and fresh produce but why couldn’t you have come through for me on this one? They’re just tiny, little candy skulls.

This isn’t over….


7 thoughts on “The Quest to Make Candy Skulls

  1. Love your post…Sorry, though, about your not being able to create the sugar skulls. But were you able to drink luscious watermelon juice while at Ranch Market????

  2. I love this place!
    Love those wooden hangings
    where I have done too in my spare time.
    Love the Conchas,
    1st time I see this and it’s lovely!
    And nopales, is it a cactus?
    1st time to hear that it’s eaten.
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. If you like Mexican food, but good Mexican food, then you would love Ranch Market. And yes, nopales are from a cactus — super tasty! Ever had a prickly pear? Also very tasty.

    Thanks for visiting the site, bendedspoon!

  4. The mango pops look really good. I live in Portland, Oregon, so where do you think I can find these? I’ve searched everywhere. Please help.

  5. These mango pops are really expensive. Do you know how to make them? If you do, can you tell me the recipe? Thank you.

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