Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dia de los Muertos Cupcakes And Bread

I have always been drawn to the holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This year I made cupcakes inspired by the holiday, along with the traditional bread Pan de Muertos.

I searched everywhere for chocolate skull molds to use to replicate sugar skulls, but I couldn't find them anywhere. Luckily, while in Napa with a friend we stopped by my favorite chocolate shop, Woodhouse, and found the perfect chocolate skulls.(Well, almost perfect...they were around $8 each and tasted like horrible waxy grocery store chocolate.) I decorated the skulls with royal icing which turned out to be more difficult to do than I first thought. Once the skulls were decorated I made Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes by slightly adjusting my regular chocolate cupcake recipe. The cupcakes were delicious, with the perfect amount of spices not too subtle or too over powering. I did run into one problem though, there was a weird reaction with the cupcake liners. Every single liner peeled away from the cake which caused major issues with my presentation. I will be working on the issue of the cupcake liners the next time I make these, because there will definitely be a next time.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup prepared Abuelita refrigerated (Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup of oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash cayenne pepper

  • Preheat oven to 350 and prepare cupcake tin.
  • Stir together 1 cup of hot chocolate and 1 tsp vinegar in bowl of stand mixer, and let stand.
  • In a separate bowl whisk 1 cup flour,  1/3 cup cocoa powder, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon and dash of cayenne pepper. Set aside.
  • Add to the bowl of hot chocolate 3/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup oil, and 2 tsp vanilla beat until foamy.
  • Add dry ingredients to the wet in two batches until no longer lumpy.
  • Pour into prepared muffin tin and bake 18-20 minutes.

Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting:

1 cup shortening
1 cup butter softened
8 cups/1 bag powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup heavy cream or milk
  • In a bowl of a stand mixer cream shortening and butter
  • Add powdered sugar and beat until well blended.
  • On low speed add salt vanilla and cream.
  • Turn to high and beat until fluffy.

Never having traditional Pan de Muertos, I don't know if this is an authentic recipe, but it was the best sounding recipe I found I only slightly modified the recipe and it turned out pretty delicious, and gave my daughter an extra 50 points in Spanish :)

Pan de Muertos

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons anise seed
1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons orange zest

1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons white sugar 

  • Heat the 1/4 cup milk and the 1/4 cup butter together in a microwave safe bowl. Add 1/4 warm water, the mixture should be around 110 degrees. 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 1 cup of the flour, 1 1/4 tsp yeast, 1/2 salt, 1/2 tsp anise seed and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Beat in the warm milk mixture then add the 2 eggs and 2 tsp orange zest and beat until well combined. Continue adding 1/2 cup of flour at a time until the dough is soft. 
  • Using the dough hook,  knead dough for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. 
  • Lightly grease the mixing bowl and dough, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. About 2 hours. Punch the dough down, cut off enough dough to make a few ropes and small ball to decorate the top of the bread. Place dough onto a baking sheet, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until just about doubled in size. 
  • Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 35 to 45 minutes. 
  • During the last 10 minutes in the oven, start preparing the glaze.
  • I a small sauce pan combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup orange juice, and 1 tbs orange zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes.
  • Brush over warm bread and sprinkle with sugar.


  1. Love the skulls! Did you hand make them yourself?

    1. Thank you. My local bakery supply store didn't have anything like them at the time, so I found these skulls at a chocolate shop and just decorated them myself. I have seen molds that look very similar online, but I am horrible at planning that far in advance :)



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