skull cookies with bright colors and flowers painted on them for day of the dead
Day of the Dead Cake and Cookies By “for Heaven Bakes”

Today, I am bringing back one of my favorite cake and cookie designers to help teach us all a little more about creating show-stopping desserts! I asked my friend, Julie, of For Heaven Bakes, to share tips that we regular folks could use to up our decorating game.

Skull cookie being painted with paint brush with bright colors and flowers
Cookie and Tutorial by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy Photos

Julie created a jaw dropping (LOL) dessert and she is going to tell you all about it! Read on to hear from Julie…and to see how she created the cookies to complement this cake (insert that jaw drop here)…

Lady in purple holding Day of the Dead Skull cake
Cake by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

Julie says…

For Halloween this year, I wanted to do a cake that was fun and colorful, and not just limiting the colors to the traditional orange and black. A Day of the Dead-themed party cake and cookies were perfect for this!

Day of the Dead Skull Cake with flowers
Cake by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

The skull was sculpted from 5 cake layers (yes, he’s entirely edible!) and vanilla buttercream, then covered in fondant and topped with gum paste flowers. The skull design was entirely hand-painted, which took more than 3 hours to paint the whole head.

side view of day of dead skull cake handpainted with bright colors
Cake by Julie McAllister of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

To make the party dessert setup complete, I wanted to add some fun cookies—these mini Day of the Dead skulls were the perfect complement to the cake!

hand painted skull cookies for day of the dead
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

My goal was to show a couple of different ways to decorate Day of the Dead cookies that a baker of any skill level could use as inspiration. Both designs use a combination of royal icing and fondant, and the general steps are outlined below. 

skull cookies with bright colors and flowers painted on them for day of the dead
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

How to Hand-Paint Skull Cookies

Day of the Dead Sugar Cookies Two Ways

Design 1: Hand-painted

Things You’ll Need

Skull-shaped sugar cookies, baked and cooled

–Skull-shaped cookie cutter (same that you used for the cookies)


–Small liner and wide paint brushes (I like Wilton’s cake brush sets)

–Corn syrup

–Assortment of gel food coloring (I used sky blue, mint green, rose pink, orange and black)

–1-2 tbsp vodka


Step 1. Roll out your homemade or pre-made fondant until it’s about 1/8″ thick.

baker pressing skull cookie cutter into white fondant
Photo by Abby Murphy

2. Using your skull-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many skulls as you have cookies. (Optional: If your cutter is also a cookie stamp, stamp the design into the fondant after it’s cutout.)

day-of-the-dead-skull-cookie-fondant-corn-syrup
Photo by Abby Murphy

3. Using your wide paint brush, lightly brush a small amount of corn syrup onto the cookie, then place the cutout fondant skull onto the cookie. Using your fingers, smooth out any bumps.

baker smoothing white fondant on top of skull cookie
Photo by Abby Murphy

4. Place 1-2 drops of each gel food coloring you’re using into separate small ramekins (or a ceramic egg holder works great for this!), then add 1 drop of vodka to each color. Wait a few seconds, then mix together with a paint brush. Do this for every color (the vodka allows the food coloring to dry quickly). 

cookie artist painting day of the dead skull cookies with brush
Cookie by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

5. Time to start decorating! I find it’s easiest to paint your “anchors” first, which are the eyes, nose and mouth. The great thing about Day of the Dead designs are that they are very unique and personal, and there are no wrong options! Using your different colors, try painting different swirls, flowers and dots all around the face until you’re happy with your design. 

Cookie by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

6. Set cookies on a cooling rack to dry. Enjoy! 🙂

How to Decorate Skull Cookies Using Fondant

day-of-the-dead-skull-cookies-fondant-only
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy


Design 2: Fondant Details Using a Royal Icing Base

Things You’ll Need

–Skull-shaped sugar cookies, baked and cooled

–Royal icing

 –Homemade or pre-made fondant

–Assortment of gel food coloring (I used sky blue, mint green, rose pink, orange and black)
–1-2 tbsp vodka
–Small liner paint brushes (I like Wilton’s cake brush sets)

–Any standard piping tip (you’ll be using the wide base and not the tip itself)

–Small heart cookie cutter

–Small rectangle cookie cutter

–Assortment of flower fondant stamps

–X-acto knife 


Step 1. Outline your skull cookies with royal icing and allow to dry. Once set, flood your royal icing and fill each outline. Allow at least 5 hours to fully dry, but I find it works best to let dry overnight. 

2. Using your various food coloring, color a small amount of fondant for each different color. 

3. Roll out your homemade or pre-made fondant until it’s about 1/8″ thick.

4. As with the first design, I find it’s easiest to start with your “anchors” first, which are the eyes, nose and mouth. And as I mentioned above, the great thing about Day of the Dead designs are that they are very unique and personal, and there are no wrong options!

For the eyes, use the base of your piping tip to cutout two circles (I used black for this).

day-of-the-dead-skull-cookies-with royal icing being decorated
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

Using a different color, cutout two flowers, using one of your flower stamps. Using your paint brush, add a small dab of royal icing to the back of each flower and then adhere to the cutout circles. Set aside to dry and firm up. Do two of these for every skull cookie you have.

5. Using your small heart cookie cutter, cutout a “nose” for each cookie. Set aside to dry and firm up.

cookie decorator adding nost to skull cookie for day of the dead
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

6. Using the rest of your colored fondant and flower stamps, continue to cutout various flowers in different sizes and colors. Set aside to dry and firm up.

7. Once all of your fondant toppers are firm, adhere to each cookie by placing a small dab of royal icing on your paint brush and then placing onto each cookie. 

cake stand with day of dead skull cookies in two different styles
Cookies by Julie of For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy

8. Set cookies aside on a cooling rack so royal icing can fully dry. Enjoy! 🙂

Julie! Thank you for teaching us your techniques for decorating skull cookies for Day of the Dead. These are incredible! Okay, Friends, it is time for us to have a go. Which ones would you try to make first? I think I would go with the fondant covered cookies while I learn how to make and flood royal icing. I am guessing all of it would be a huge hit. And, I am still amazed by that cake!! Julie- you have so much talent!! You can see more of Julie’s talent here (you really should go see what she makes!).

3 photos combined to show baker holding day of dead skull cake
Julie McAllister/For Heaven Bakes/ Photo by Abby Murphy


ice cream sandwiches dressed up for halloween with candy eyes and witch hats
8 of My Favorite Halloween Food Ideas

Fun or spooky? Cute or creepy? Which is your favorite way to celebrate Halloween? These Halloween food ideas fit more in the fun and cute camp and they were so much fun to create! One of my favorite ways to decorate food for Halloween is by using candy eyes…the eyes make everything more fun. Take a look at the following treats that I made for my own kids and let me know what you think! I have more eye-deas than I can put on one page, but let’s just say that candy eyes bring out all the fun ways to play on words!

  1. Halloween Ice Cream Sand-witches (and Mummies and Monsters)
ice cream sandwiches dressed up for halloween with candy eyes and witch hats
Halloween Ice Cream Sandwiches by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

These are about as easy as it gets to make! To make the “Mummy” simply tear a piece of the wrapper from around the ice cream sandwich to allow a place to add the candy eyes. Use a drop of frosting or peanut butter to attach the eyes to the ice cream sandwich. To make the “Frankenstein” monster, break a mint-flavored ice cream sandwich in half and add the candy eyes with frosting or peanut butter. And, for the witch…simply add candy eyes in the middle of the ice cream sandwich and then add a witch hat by inserting a toothpick in the top of the ice cream and then adding the hat. You can find witch hats (at my affiliate link) on Amazon here.

Halloween ice cream sandwiches decorated to look like mummy witch and frankenstein
Halloween Ice Cream Sandwiches by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

2. EYE SCream Sandwich Ghosts

Ice Cream Sandwiches with candy eyes in the ice cream to look like ghosts
Halloween Ghost Ice Cream Sandwiches by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

For these Ice Cream Sandwich Ghosts, I used Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches because there is more ice cream in the middle than the average ice cream sandwich. This makes it easier to make the eyes peep out from the ice cream. To make the eyes stick, add them to the slightly softened ice cream and then put them back in the freezer immediately.

ice cream sandwich ghosts with candy eyes peeping out from the ice cream
Ice Cream Sandwich Ghosts with Candy Eyes by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

3. Halloween Brownie Tr(EYE)-fle

Halloween brownie trifle with whipped cream and eyeball gumballs
Brownie Tr(EYE)-fle by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

For this brownie trifle, I put ping pong balls with eyes in the very bottom of the trifle dish and added battery-operated lights to make it all glow. Next, I placed a few layers of plastic wrap over the balls and lights and then started adding the brownies. I layered chocolate pudding, Cool Whip, and crushed Oreos and then repeated the brownies, pudding, Cool Whip and Oreos. For the top layer, I added gum balls that were eyeballs (typically available at Halloween) and I even sprinkled in a few small, candy eyes. I can’t even tell you how fast this disappeared!

Brownie Trifle with gumball eyeballs on the top
Brownie Trifle by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

4. Individual Brownie Tr(EYE)-fles

Individual servings of brownie trifles with candy eyes and gold spoons
Mini Brownie Trifles Tr(EYE)fles by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

Same eye-dea, just served individually in small jars or cups. For this brownie trifle, I used jumbo candy eyes for the topper and simply layered brownies, chocolate pudding, and Cool Whip inside the jars. You can definitely add a spoonful of crushed Oreos if you like! These are a huge hit in a small package!

5. L(EYE)ME- ADE

Limeade in glass bottles with straws and eyeball ping pong balls
Limeade served with EYES by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon. Straws and Straw Flags by Loralee Lewis

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but here I served Simply Limeade in glass bottles and added a straw and straw flag from Loralee Lewis. I topped the bottles with eyeball ping pong balls that I found at Michael’s. The ball rested perfectly against the straw and didn’t roll off or fall down into the bottle- it made a very fun presentation!

L(EYE)me-ade by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

And then here is another version of how I have served Limeade to be L(EYE)m-ade…I actually really love this one because the kids like wearing the eyeball rings…

Halloween drinks served in glass bottles with spooky eye rings and halloween straws
Limeade aka L(EYE)me-ade by Lydia Menzies of The Party Wagon

6. EYES-cubes ~ (Ice Cubes) for Eyes Tea

Ice cubes made with eyeball ping pong balls
Eyes-cubes made by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

For this fun idea, I used silicone cupcake molds to make ice cubes and added an eyeball ping pong ball on top. The balls did not freeze into the ice, but made a divot in the ice so that the ball could stay on top of it. I floated these ice cubes in a punch bowl of sweet tea to serve EYES TEA (iced tea).

Iced Tea in a punch bowl with floating eyeball ice cubes
Iced Tea Punch/ EYES TEA with EYES CUBES by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

7. WITCH WARTS

small glass jars filled with green candies and candy eyes topped with a witch hat and mini broom
Witch Warts Party Favors by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

Candy eyes give this “Witch Warts” party favor extra personality! To make this gift for your party guests or friends, use a small, clear plastic jar and fill with your favorite green candy. I used green sprinkles. Slide candy eyes into the jar so that they are facing out. Put the jar top on and add a mini witch hat- secure the hat with glue dots or double-sided tape. I wrapped a green ribbon around the outside of the jar top and tied a bow. Add a mini broom stick to finish off the look of the witch! This gift is sure to get a smile!

Witch wart party favor green candy in clear jar with mini witch hat and mini broom
Witch Warts Party Favors by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

8. EYE-SCREAM BATH BOMBS

Display of halloween bath bombs with candy eyes inside of ice cream cones
EYE-Scream Bath Bombs by Sun Basil Soaps- styled by Lydia at The Party Wagon

Although this is not edible, I couldn’t help but share it with you guys! These bath bombs are bomb, as you can see. Here is another party favor idea for you for a fun Halloween take away! My friend, Lauren, at Sun Basil Soap made these for us, and I displayed them in ice cream cones and candy cups to make them look like ice cream to go along with the eye-scream theme. They were so cute and unique. Candy eyes really do make everything a little more fun!

Display of monster mash candy eye bath bombs displayed in ice cream cones
Eye-Scream Bath Bombs by Sun Basil Soaps and styled by Lydia Menzies at The Party Wagon

I hope these eye-deas jumpstart your creative juices for Halloween! The eyes definitely have it when it comes to a fun and not-so spooky Halloween. Here’s to making, baking, and celebrating!! Enjoy!

Cheers xo,

Lydia