Now popular in the United States, the Day of the Dead holiday, which originated in Mexico, is celebrated from October 31 through November 2, and coincides with the Roman Catholic feast days of All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2). In Mexico, All Souls’ Day is a national holiday and the time when many believe the departed return to visit their loved ones. Typically, Pan de Muerto – Bread for the Dead – is enjoyed during this period, when it is served at parties, festivals and graveyard celebrations, where the living gather to honor and remember the dead.
A sweet, anise-orange scented yeast bread, Bread for the Dead is typically shaped into a round and topped with a ball of dough surrounded by several more pieces of dough fashioned to look like skeleton bones. In addition, before baking, the bread is brushed with a glaze and sprinkled with sugar.
Bread for the Dead is delicious accompanied with Mexican hot chocolate, which can be authentically made with readily available Nestle-Abeulita Mexican Chocolate tablets. (I found a good supply in Walmart in the aisle where Latin foods are stocked.) Although the dark chocolate, cinnamon “laced” tablets are coated with coarse sugar, they are not overly sweet, so you may want to add more sugar to your hot chocolate beverage.