My friends Donna and Dian in California introduced me to the Day of the Dead, la Dia de los Muertos, which is fast becoming one of my favorite holidays.
I gather that there are actually TWO days of the dead. On November 1, the spirits of dead children return to earth to join us. On November 2, adults follow.
Dian and Donna have wonderful, elaborate ofrendas, shrines dedicated to the memory of people they have lost. The ofrendas feature flowers, candles, trinkets, foods the people loved, skulls made of sugar, and even chocolate skulls.
I am only just starting to celebrate this holiday so my ofrenda is quite small—but I had fun putting it together. I brought it along to my most recent appearance on the television program Mass Appeal. I made Mexican hot chocolate in honor of the day and of my father (who LOVED chocolate).
The hot chocolate recipe, and the chocolate with which I made it, came from Taza Chocolate. I have tried making the hot chocolate with both vanilla-flavored chocolate (plus a little cinnamon) and the guajillo chile chocolate we used on the TV show. The chile chocolate might be a bit strong for kids, but it has a nice kick. And either frothy chocolate drink is fluffy and creamy.
Next year, I hope to give you a recipe for the traditional bread for the Day of the Dead, which you can see in the photograph of my ofrenda. I’m still working on the right formula!
Meanwhile, Happy Day of the Dead—and of course Happy Halloween. If you watch the video at the bottom of this post, you’ll see us make pumpkin bread for Halloween as well as the hot chocolate.
1 2.7-ounce package (2 discs) Mexican chocolate
2 cups milk
1 pinch salt
Roughly chop or grate the chocolate. Set it aside.
Heat the milk over medium heat until it ALMOST starts to simmer. Remove the milk from the heat, and toss in the salt.
Slow add the chocolate, stirring until it dissolves.
Return the mixture to the stove and warm it up again over low heat. While it is heating, use a whisk, a frother, or an immersion blender to froth it.