Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos

Do you have a skeleton in your closet? Well I certainly do, and lots of them!

Okay, okay, so this holiday isn’t exactly about our hidden skeletons. In fact, Dia de los Muertos is a traditional holiday that originated in Mexico. It is an important holiday to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have past. In the United States, it has become very popular. While we don’t celebrate it in the same traditional sense, it is still a time for families and friends to come together and talk, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company – a time to celebrate life!

The holiday falls on November 1st and 2nd and is celebrated with some traditional desserts. Whether you want to throw a big party or have some relaxing time to yourself, I am going to share with you two of my favorite traditional recipes that are best enjoyed together: Chocolate Mexicano con Pan de los Muertos (Mexican hot chocolate with bread of the dead).


Chocolate Mexicano

Serves 4


3 cups milk,

3 oz. of Mexican spiced chocolate

OR (if you don’t want to use Mexican spiced chocolate)

3 oz. semisweet chocolate,

2 tbsp. sugar,

½ tsp. cinnamon,

¼ tsp. vanilla extract



1. Put everything into a saucepan (large enough to hold about 6 cups of liquid) and place over a medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil.

2. Once the chocolate is softened, beat the mixture with a hand beater. Do this until the mixture is well blended and it has stopped boiling. If you don’t have a hand mixer, a whisk will work too. It might just take a bit longer.

3. Bring the mixture to a boil for a second time. Once it starts to boil, beat the mixture again for about 1 minute.

4. Next, bring the mixture to a boil for a third time. In this step, you will want to beat it and beat it until you’ve created as much foam as you can, or at least as much as you want – I like a lot! This is the part where a hand blender is easier to use; a whisk may not create as much foam.


5. Finally, pour your delicious hot chocolate into cups and tell your guests this is your own secret recipe!

Note: If you aren’t watching the milk mixture, it can boil over very easily.

Also, the traditional recipe uses 3 oz. of Mexican spiced chocolate. While still delicious, you cannot get quite the same flavor if you use the substitutions.


Pan de los Muertos

Makes 2 loaves


1 cup milk,

½ cup butter, softened,

½ cup sugar,

1½ tsp. salt,

1 tsp. finely grated orange peel (about half an orange),

½ tsp. anise seeds, grounded,

1 tbsp. active dry yeast,

Pinch of sugar,

¼ cup of warm water,

2 whole eggs,

3 egg yolks,

1 tsp. water,

About 5½ cups all-purpose flour,

about 2 tbsp. sugar (or to taste),


1.  Scald the milk, about 180°F. In a large bowl, pour this over the butter, ½ cup sugar, salt, orange peel, and ground anise seeds. Stir this mixture until the sugar is dissolved and let it cool.


2. Stir the yeast and pinch of sugar into the ¼ cup of warm water. Let this sit until the yeast is softened.


3. Beat the whole eggs and egg yolks in a small bowl. Save two tablespoons of the beaten eggs into another small bowl and add 1 tsp water, place in refrigerator.  This will be used for a glaze.

4. Mix the yeast and remaining beaten eggs into the milk mixture. Then mix in enough flour (about 5 cups) to make a stiff dough.

5. This is the tough step! Knead this dough on a lightly floured surface until it is smooth and elastic. This will take at least 10 minutes – you will feel like your arms are ready to fall off (I’m not kidding!) Add more flour as needed – about an extra 1/2 cup.


6. Grease a large bowl (about 3 times bigger than the dough) using butter, shortening, or cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it, making sure to grease all sides. This will keep the dough from forming a dry crust.

7. Cover the dough with a clean, dry towel and set aside in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. This will take about 1 hour.


8. Punch down the dough (essentially, you are deflating the dough by punching it) and knead it for a few minutes. Set it aside as you grease two baking sheets. Then, evenly divide the dough into two loaves. Take off about 1/3 of a cup from each loaf for decorations.


9. Shape each of the large pieces of dough into smooth, round loaves. Place on the baking sheets and brush them with the egg mixture you saved.

10. With the remaining pieces of dough, decorate the loaves. “Cross bones” are the traditional shapes.


11. Cover these loaves with a clean, dry towel and let it rest in a warm place until it has doubled in size. This will take about 45 minutes. As you wait, preheat the oven to 350°F.

12. Once the bread has risen, brush the loaves with the remaining egg mixture and sprinkle each loaf with sugar (amount depends on your sweet tooth). Bake the loaves for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

13. Let the bread cool (although, I like warm bread). Serve this with your hot chocolate and celebrate Dia de los Muertos!


Let me know how yours comes out. Feel free to leave comments or questions below!


For some other great ideas for Dia de los Muertos, check out these blogs!


*All pictures are taken by me.


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