Pan de Muerto(Day of the Dead Bread)- Mexican Chocolate

Pan de Muerto

The mornings are brisk and my thoughts imediately go to visions of warm bolillos, conchas or pan de muerto coming out of my oven. But in all honesty, I have been known to bake in the middle of summer just to satify my cravings for fresh pan dulce(sweet bread). I guess it would be different if there were a panaderia(bakery) near to purchase pan de muerto, conchas and bolillos. No such luck! But, that is a blessing in disguise. At least that is the way I see it. The lack of Mexican foods, snacks and baked goods has forced me to learn to develop my own recipes at home. In the long run, it is a good learning experience. Getting back to the day of the dead bread. Dia de los muertos is observed on October31st – November 2nd through out Mexico. In the evening of Oct. 31st, Dia de Los Angelitos, the souls of the departed children are invited to visit the colorful alters set up by family members. Favorite treats and toys are left on the alters for the departed children souls to be welcomed back. The alters are typically filled with pictures, flowers, insense, candles, special paper decorations, water, fruits and nuts and the special bread. Each item having it’s own special significance.  November 1st is Dia de los Muertos or Dia de los Difuntos. On November 2nd, the family make there way to the cemetary. They place special foods, pictures and momentos on the gravesite. Special music is often played to welcome the departed souls. The families celebrate, that on this day, they are reunited with their departed loved ones. #pandemuerto #diadelosmuertos #mexicantraditions

Dia de Los Muertos-Pan de Muerto

Part of the small alter. This blog post includes pictures of pan de muerto I have baked for the past three years. Alway learning something new.

Pan de Muerto

Pan de Muerto

Pan de Muerto-Day of the Dead Bread

Yields 3 loaves

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
1 cup warm water(110-115 degrees F)
2 tablespoons orange blossom water, optional
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons orange zest
4 cups, plus of bread flour, sifted
1 teaspoon salt

You Will Also Need
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
colored sugar crystals, assorted
parchment paper



In a large measuring cup, combine the yeast, agave, warm water and orange blossom water. Stir gently until mostly combined and let sit for 10 minutes.

In a bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until smooth. Mix in the eggs and zest. Then mix in the yeast/water mixture just until combined.

Combine the flour and salt. Gradually mix in the liquids to the flour until dough begins to form. Transfer to a flat work surface and knead the dough for a good 10 minutes. If dough is too sticky, add 1 tablespoons of  flour at a time, until dough is less sticky, but not dry. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour.

After one hour, transfer dough to flat surface and knead gently for a few seconds. Using a pastry cutter or knife, divide the dough into 4 equal balls.

Working as quick as you can, shape 3 sections of the dough into a ball and place onto parchment lined baking sheets.

Divide the last dough ball into 3 equal pieces. Then divide each piece into three separate pieces. All together, you should have 9 pieces of dough. Shape 3 of the pieces into an oval like shaper to resmble a skull. Set aside. Take the remaining 6 pieces and genlty roll with your fingers onto a flat surface in a cigar shape. As you roll, separate your fingers and apply gently pressure to create the shape of a bone. See the pictures below. 

In a small bowl, whisk the egg with water, set aside.

Lightly brush the loaves with some egg wash and place the bones in a criss cross shape over the tops. Add a little egg wash to center and place the round skull shape in place. Cover loosely and let rise for one more hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If adding colored sugar crystals, brush loaves with egg wash and sprinkle with desired sugar crystal colors. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Internal temperature of bread should be at least 190 degrees.

Pan de Muerto

Pan de Muerto

Pan de Muerto can be finished three ways. 1. You can simply brush with egg wash and bake.  2. You can brush with melted butter after it bakes and dust with granulated sugar 3. You can brush with egg wash and sprinkles with colored sugar crystals before baking. 

Pan de Muerto

On occasion, I like to add fresh ground canela(cinnamon) and anise seeds to my pan de muerto. It is not traditional, but I do enjoy the flavors.

Pan de Muerto

I need to practic more on shaping the bones, but you get the idea.

Pam de Muerto

Pan de Muerto

Pan de Muerto

Pan de Muerto

Mexican Hot Chocolate

The bread is pan de muerto in a dark chocolate flavor! Use the dark chocolate conchas recipe on site to prepare pan de muerto.

For Mexican Hot Chocolate:

2 cinnamon sticks
2- (3.5 ounce) disc of Mexican Chocolate
1 1/2 -2 liters of milk or water

Heat milk or water with cinnamon sticks at medium heat until right before it comes to a boil. Add the chocolate and stir using a wooden spoon to break up the pieces. If possible, use a wooden molinillo to mix and froth the hot chocolate. Serve right away.  

Gorditas de Azucar (Sweet Griddle Cakes)

Gorditas de Azucar(Sweet Griddle Cakes)

Gorditas de azucar. A simple, rustic, home-style sweet griddle cake prepared on cool mornings. This is how I remember it. I grew up in California, and yes, there were cool mornings as well as cool evenings. In my opinion, that was the prefect weather for warm gorditas de azucar hot off the comal with a hot cup of Mexican chocolate. Chocolaté Abuelita was the brand I remember the most, but there were a few others like, Ibarra and La Popular brands. Cafe con leche is not a bad option either! I enjoyed gorditas whenever I would visit home and it made it more special to wait until then. I never really thought about the actual recipe until I lost my Mom. It happened fast and with her went many of those simple, and so loved, family recipes. Of course, I had all my notes of other recipes I had already asked her about and tried on my own. Gorditas was not one of them, And even though it is such an easy recipe, you still need that right ratio of ingredients for it to work. Thankfully, when I visited my family in Mexico, back in 2011, my cousin Patricia helped me with the details of the recipe. We literally sat together one afternoon and she so kindly went through my tia Amelia’s(her mom, my mom’s sister) recipe books. She recited recipes as I quickly made notes. When I got home to New York, I had to still figure out the correct measurements on the recipes to fit teaspoons and cups and not gramos and kilos, lol! You know what I mean?   I am so, so thankful that she shared those recipes with me. I have tried some of them, but there are still some I have not attempted yet. The first recipe is the original one that I adapted to the measurements that I thought would work. And they did! This is the way I remenber the gorditas de azucar. The second recipe, is my twist! I added light brown sugar, Mexican canela(cinnamon) and anise. Those are slices and flavors I associate pan dulce(sweet bread) with and I have to say, they turned out pretty good. I am heading into the kitchen as soon as I am done with this post to prepare a batch to share with a special friend tomorrow. Keep the family traditions alive! #hispanicheritagemonth #familyrecipes


Gorditas de Azucar(Sweet Griddle Cakes)

Gorditas de Azucar
Yields 12 Gorditas
2 cups flour
1/2 cup shortening or margarine(at room temp.)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 – 1/3 cup milk warm milk
1 large egg, lighty whisked
  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl,add the shortening or margarine and work it in with your hands. Gradually add in the milk and egg until dough forms. Make 12 dough balls, set aside.

2. Heat a griddle pan or comal to medium heat. With a tortilla press or with a flat plate, take 1 dough ball and place between plastic, flatten to about 3 1/2 inches in width. Cook on hot griddle for 1 or 2 minutes per side until nicely browned. Serve warm with butter and or dulce de leche. 



Gorditas de Azucar(Sweet Griddle Cakes)

The recipe below is my twist on gorditas de azucar! I enjoy both recipes. The important thing here is to keep the recipes of your family alive. Pass on the recipes, write them down, cook with your kids. They will be so thankful one day that you did this. Trust me!

Gorditas de Azucar con Canela y Anis(Sweet Griddle Cakes)

Cinnamon/Anise Brown Sugar Gordita de Azucar

Yields 14-16 Gorditas 


2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fresh ground canela(cinnamon)
1/3 teaspoon ground anise
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup warm milk
1 large egg, lightly whisked
1/2 teaspoon vanilla, optional

1. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in the butter until small granules form. Whisk the milk,egg and vanilla together. Gradually add in the milk/egg mixture until dough forms. If too sticky, add a little more flour. Dough should be tacky, but not sticky, lol! Roll 14 to 16 dough balls, cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

2. Preheat a large comal or griddle pan to just below medium heat for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough balls to about 31/2 inches in diameter. Cook on hot comal/griddle for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until nicely browned. It should start to bubble as soon as it hits the hot surface. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel to keep warm. 


Gorditas de Azucar

In my experience, I get a smoother edge on the gorditas when I roll them out compared to using the tortilla press.

Gorditas de Azucar

Gorditas de Azucar

The first few gorditas may burn. It is typical, lol! Adjust the heat on the comal(griddle) if this happens.

Gorditas de Azucar

They should puff out slightly as you cook them.

Gorditas de Azucar con Canela y Anis


Gorditas de Azucar1

Bistec en Salsa (Chuck Steaks in a Tomato Salsa)

Bistec en Salsa(Chuckt Steaks in a Tomato Salsa)
Like every year, I enjoy preparing a special meal to celebrate our wedding anniversary. This year, I wanted to keep it simple, so I prepared one of our favorites, bistec en salsa. Thin beef steaks, pan seared and braised for a short time in homemade tomato salsa. It’s a super easy dish with minimal ingredients, but one of the most loved and popular Mexican recipes. The cuts of bistec(thin steaks) will vary, as will the salsa used to braise. I happen to have salsa ready made in my refrigerator all the time, so that right there is a time saver. On the side, I like to make it special by adding some sort of shrimp dish. I prepared my recipe for Tequila Lime Shrimp. It also comes fairly quick! Find the link below. Going out to dinner is nice too, but a homecooked meal prepared with love, there is nothing like it! These are the moments we will cherish and remember the most of all. #32yearsmarried #familyrecipes #mexicanfood
Bistec en Salsa
Bistec en Salsa(Chuck Steaks in a Tomato Salsa)

3-4 Servings

1 pound thin sliced(boneless) chuck steaks
garlic, optional
onion, sliced
poblano, strips
red bell pepper, strips
serrano, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2-2 cups salsa de mesa(previously cooked, recipe below)
cilantro, optional

Preheat oil to medium heat for a few minutes. Season the beef lightly on both sides with salt, pepper and garlic.

Sear the beef on all sides and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed in the pan.

Remove the beef for a moment onto a plate. Drizzle in a little more oil to pan if needed. Add the onions, poblano, bell pepper, serrano and garlic. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 2 minutes.

Add the beef back in and cover with previously prepared salsa. Push the beef down so it’s mostly covered with salsa and vegetables. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6-8 minutes. Yields 4 servings

Bistec en Salsa
Also on the side, I could not think of a better way to start our meal, than with a hot bowl of fideo! Link below! Follow the recipe for Fideo con Calabacitas. I added diced poblano and carrots this time.
Bistec en Salsa(Chuck Steaks ina Tomato Salsa)
 The next day for lunch! Add beans and warm tortillas!
Salsa de Mesa con Serrano
Salsa de Mesa con Serrano
Essential to any Mexican table, this Salsa de Mesa can be prepared with a variety of chiles, fresh or dried. In my family, it was most commonly prepared with  chile serrano.

5 large roma tomatoes
2 serrano peppers , 1/4 piece of onion
1 clove garlic
Pinch of Mexican oregano, optional 
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Salt to taste

Tips~ For a smoky salsa, switch out the serrano peppers for chipotles in adobo! If using the chipotles, do not add them until you are ready to blend the salsa. For a smoother salsa, you can peel the tomatoes once they cool.


Combine the tomatoes, chile serrano and onion. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain most of the water and transfer to the blender. Add all remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth, taste for salt. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. For a milder version, just reduce the chiles by half.

Bistec en Salsa

 Tequila Lime Shrimp. Click link for recipe!

Embracing my Mexican heritage and sharing all the wonderful flavors, colors and foods I grew up with. Join me on this journey as I also learn new foods and cooking techniques. Dedicated to my parents Ramiro and Blanca.

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