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Cacao recipe | Festive cacao

Pan de Muerto

Pan de Muerto is a light, airy, sweet bread significant to Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead celebrations. It is used as an offering on altars and shared with family as a way to honor those who have passed. Its unique shape is rich in symbolism. The round bun-like shape signifies the circle of life, with decorations consisting of two strips forming an “X” across the top. They subtly look like bones, with the four ends representing four ancient deities. The top is then finished with a small ball in the center, representing a skull.

While Pan de Muerto is a common offering on altar spaces, it is also enjoyed by families in celebration. In Mexico, you can find this special treat in many different versions, made with fruits, filled with creams or chocolate, or our favorite way, alongside a mug of warm Cacao with cinnamon. Paired together, it is the perfect combination as we dunk the pan in our chocolate, savor every bite, and sip.

The recipe is both dairy-free and plant-based. Instead of using egg, we substituted high-starch Gold Potatoes, which act as a binder, and add moisture to the bread. You can also try it with Sweet Potatoes for a new take on a classic.

Pan de Muerto

Pan de Muerto or “Bread of the Dead” is an iconic staple found on altars in Dia de Los Muertos or "Day of the Dead" Celebrations. This beautiful recipe is perfectly paired with Ceremonial Cacao as a family treat or an offering to share with loved ones, here and beyond.

Servings: 6 loaves

Keywords: Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, Bread, Sweet Bread, plant-based, vegan, Dulce

  • Prep Time: 3 hours 0 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 mins




  • 6 ⅔ cups Bread Flour
  • 1 ½ cups Gold Potatoes (or other high-starch variety), cooked, cooled, and mashed
  • 2 packs Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 cup Almond or Oat Milk
  • 1 cup and 2 tbsp Plant-based Butter
  • 1 ½ cups Cane Sugar, Granulated
  • Juice of 1 Orange
  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • ¼ tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt


  1. In a medium bowl, activate the yeast by dissolving in warm to the touch (not hot) almond or oat milk. Add in a spoon of bread flour, then mix with a fork to incorporate. Set aside for 20 minutes.  
  2. In the meantime prepare your dry ingredients. For this step you can use a bowl and mix by hand, or use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. In the mixing bowl combine sugar, remaining flour, salt, and cinnamon. Mix and set aside.
  3. To the activated yeast mixture, add all wet ingredients: juice of 1 orange, zest of 1 orange, mashed and cooled potato. Stir until combined. 
  4. Add the wet mix into the mixing bowl with the dry mix. Mix slowly to incorporate, then increase speed to medium and begin adding the plant-based butter in small chunks.
  5. Continue mixing for approx 12-18 minutes. You are looking for the dough to pull away from the sides of the bowl and be stretchy (that's the gluten working!), but not sticky. Ideally, if you take a small dough ball and stretch it into 4 corners like a square, it should stretch without breaking and be thin enough to have transparency.
  6. Place your dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, approx 90 minutes. Punch down the dough, fold the sides in and turn it over. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to develop overnight.
  7. The following day, remove plastic wrap and cover with a towel, placing the bowl in a warm area for about 90 minutes, until it reaches room temp. It may rise during this time.
  8. Cut the dough in 7 equal pieces, set 1 piece aside and roll the remaining 6 into balls and place on a parchment-lined baking tray.
  9. With the remaining ball you will sculpt the decorations. Roll a total of 6 small balls and 12 strips. Place 2 strips forming a cross on each bal. Cover and set aside another 90 minutes to rise or until doubled in size. After rising, add the ball to each center, adhering with water. It will resemble bones and a skull on top.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for approx 20 minutes, until golden brown in color. Buns are done when the bottoms are golden brown and if using a probe thermometer, reaches an internal temp of 185 F.
  11. While bread is still warm you can brush with additional plant based butter and sprinkle with sugar, or allow to cool and dust with powdered sugar. 
  12. Pan de Muerto is a beautiful addition to your Dia de Los Muertos altars and ofrendas, as well as a beautiful treat the family will love. Enjoy on its own, or dip into a rich mug of Keith’s 100% Pure Ceremonial Grade Cacao Drink for a perfect pairing!


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