Day of the Dead Bread and Chocolate

         day of the dead                                                    

Tomorrow is El Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead,  and I’m up to my elbows preparing a feast.  In honor of Elena and her favorite day of the year, here are two recipes from THE LOST RECIPE FOR HAPPINESS. For more recipes, such as one for tamales (excellent at Christmas), you will find the book in a local bookstore.  Or online here.

 Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead)

1/2 cup of butter

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt

2 pkgs dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 T flour

1/4 cup water, just warmer than body temperature

5 cups flour

1 Tablespoon whole anise seed

1/2 cup sugar

4 eggs



1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

2 T orange zest


Measure the milk and salt into a large glass measuring cup and drop in a stick of butter, cut into chunks. Heat in the microwave until milk is scalded,  stir until butter melts, and let stand for about 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, measure warm water into a small bowl and stir 1 tsp flour and 1 tsp sugar into it. Sprinkle yeast on top and let it dissolve for a few minutes.


While those are resting, measure 1-1/2 cups of flour into a bowl and set the rest aside. Mix in the anise seed and sugar, then add the milk/butter mixture and the yeast mixture, and stir vigorously until well mixed. Beat in the eggs, then stir in the flour 1 cup at a time until the dough is soft and not sticky. Turn out the dough on a counter and knead well for 10 minutes or so, until the texture is as cool and smooth as a young breast or a baby’s bottom. Lightly grease a bowl and put the dough in it, turning it so the entire loaf is coated lightly with oil, and then cover with a thin, damp cloth and put it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise until doubled, about 1-2 hours.


Punch the dough down and shape into loaves that look like skulls, skeletons, bones. Let the loaves rise for one hour. Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Paint with glaze.


Glaze:  mix orange juice, sugar, and zest together, and boil for two minutes, then use it as a paint for the loaves. Sprinkle with colored sugar in pink, orange, green, and blue. Serve to the dead.


Or to the living, who tend to eat more of it.




6 cups of milk

1 mild green chile, roasted, skinned and chopped

1/2 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise

1/2 cup granulated raw sugar

3 oz Mexican style chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 tsp cinnamon

pinch salt

2 eggs

Stick cinnamon


Measure fresh cold milk into a heavy saucepan, and stir in the chile. Scrape the vanilla bean into the milk and break up the pod. Add sugar, chocolate, cinnamon, and salt. Heat over medium heat until the chocolate melts and the milk is steaming hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat and strain, then pour it back into the saucepan.


Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl. Stir one cup of the hot milk mixture into the eggs and stir vigorously, then pour eggs into saucepan and beat with a whip or molinillo until it’s as foamy as a bubble bath. Pour into hefty mugs and garnish with cinnamon sticks. An excellent seduction drink.


October 31, 2009

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