A Celebration of Life
Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a Mexican holiday that dates back hundreds of years. November 1 is “Día de los Inocentes” (Day of the Innocents) and also known as Día de los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels). November 2 is Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Día de los Muertos is a time of celebration and remembrance of loved ones who have passed away, much like Memorial Day in the United States.
Though it takes place around the same time as Halloween, the two holidays aren’t related. But like Halloween, it has spurred a party trend, with celebrations featuring everything from skull and skeleton decor to Mexican food and Latin music.
This year I hosted an intimate and elegant party with a handful of girlfriends and served a few traditional Mexican holiday recipes as well as modern twists to some classics: Latin-style grilled corn slathered in a creamy chili-lime mayo sprinkled with cotija; sweet and spongy pan de muerto; and rich, hot, and slightly spicy chocolate tea.
I decorated my dining table with traditional and brightly embroidered Mexican textiles, vibrant and aromatic flowers, glistening candles, and ceramic skulls. We listened to Latin music, sipped hot chocolate, passed around family photos and talked about our departed loved ones as we enjoyed the company and the cuisines.
Pan de Muerto
The most popular dish for celebrating this holiday is pan de muerto (bread of the dead). A sweet and spongy bread decorated with pieces of dough that represent bones, thi bread is traditionally eaten and left on gravesites or altars as part of the festivities.
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup water (about 125°)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 whole eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup Country Crock® Spread
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds o anise seed
- 1 egg white
- 1 Tbsp. water
- 1 Tbsp. colored sugar o granulated sugar
- Combine yeast with warm water in medium bowl and set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in milk, whole eggs and Country Crock® Spread; set aside.
- Sift flour, sugar and salt in large mixing bowl. Stir in fennel seeds. Make a well in the center of flour mixture. Stir yeast mixture into flour mixture with a wooden spoon until dough forms. Add a little more flour if the dough is too wet or a little more milk if it is too dry.
- Knead on lightly floured surface until dough is smooth but slightly sticky, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to large, lightly greased bowl. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Spray baking sheet with no-stick spray. Knead dough on lightly floured surface 3 minutes. Cut about 1/5 of the dough off; reserve. Shape remaining dough into a round loaf on prepared baking sheet. Roll reserved dough into a thick rope, then cut into 5 portions. Roll one portion into a ball and arrange it on top of the round loaf. Roll remaining 4 balls into ropes with knobby ends resembling ”bones”. Arrange ”bones” around loaf. Cover loosely and let it rise in warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.
- Beat egg white with water, then brush loaf with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake 35 minutes or until top is lightly golden brown. Remove to wire rack and cool.
Hot ‘n’ Spicy Chocolate Tea
Common drinks are hot chocolate, cerveza (beer), tequila or favorite drinks of the deceased to refresh the spirits after their journey. There is something special about tea and hot chocolate that warms the soul. Indulge in the richness of chocolate, black tea and spices with this super-easy hot drink.
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 1 cup water
- 2 Lipton® Cup Size Tea Bag or Decaffeinated Tea Bags
- 1 Tbsp. chocolate syrup
- 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
- Bring milk and water just to a boil in 2-quart saucepan. Remove from heat and add Lipton® Cup Size Tea Bags. Cover and brew 2 to 5 minutes. Remove Tea Bags and squeeze; stir in remaining ingredients. Sweeten as desired.
For more inspiration, go to MuyBuenoCookbook.com.