Day of the Dead: How to honor departed loved ones today

In many ways, Day of the Dead is the opposite of Halloween. It’s not about ghouls and goblins, sexy nurse costumes or Donald Trump masks. It’s about matters of the soul, memory — and delicious sweet bread.

Pan de Muertos, sweet dessert bread, is often served with Mexican hot chocolate. (Credit: Agencia Reforma)
Pan de Muertos, sweet dessert bread, is often served with Mexican hot chocolate. (Photo credit: Agencia Reforma)

In Mexico and Mexican communities, this day arrives the morning after Halloween and its high-fructose-corn-syrup rushes. It’s celebrated with colorful altars, festive Day of the Dead sugar skulls and, most poignantly, with foods to honor the dearly departed.

Whimsy and memory: Day of the Dead altar. (Cox Newspapers)
Whimsy and memory: Day of the Dead altar. (Cox Newspapers photo)

According to ancient indigenous belief, the souls of our departed loved ones come to visit once a year. We honor them by baking sweet, iconic Pan de Muertos dessert bread and by making their favorite dishes.

The two-day holiday, which combines All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, starts Tuesday.

RELATED: DAY OF DEAD AT HARBOURSIDE PLACE

Here is a recipe by Mexico City chef Margarita Carrillo Arronte, whose work on Mexican food and culture is reflected in her epic 2014 book, “Mexico: The Cookbook” (Phaidon).

Day of the Dead Bread is one of 700 recipes contained in the book.

Pan de Muertos

Pan de Muerto by Mexico City chef Margarita Carrillo Arronte. (Photo: Fiamma Piacentini-Huff)
Pan de Muertos by Mexico City chef Margarita Carrillo Arronte. (Photo credit: Fiamma Piacentini-Huff)

RECIPE: Day of the Dead Bread

From “Mexico: The Cookbook,” by Margarita Carrillo Arronte.

Ingredients

1 cup milk

4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry (fast-action) yeast

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1 to 2 teaspoons orange blossom water, to taste

3/4 cup melted butter, plus more for greasing and brushing

Day of the Dead inspires festive costumes and dances. (Cox Newspapers photo)
Day of the Dead inspires festive costumes. (Cox Newspapers photo)

Make the bread

For glaze:

1 egg, beaten

Pinch of sea salt

Pinch of sugar

To prepare the dough, bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, then remove from heat and let cool. Set aside.

Put the flour into a large bowl and make a well. Sprinkle in the sugar and yeast and pour in the milk. Close the well by flicking flour over the milk and let it sit for 1 hour.

Add the remaining ingredients, except the melted butter, and shape into a ball. Transfer to a clean, lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes. Add the butter and knead again for 10 minutes.

Return to the bowl and cover. Let rise for 2 hours, until doubled in size.

Grease two baking sheets with butter. Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Take two of those pieces and roll them into tight balls and then press them gently to flatten a bit. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

After the dough has rested for 1 hour, take the remaining piece of dough and divide it into 10 little pieces. Roll two of these pieces into small balls and 8 of these pieces into long, thin logs.

To make the glaze, combine all the ingredients and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and mix well. Brush the loaves gently with the glaze. Take four of the logs and drape them in an X shape over one of the balls. Repeat for the other disk of dough.

Brush these with egg. Take a little ball of dough and place it on the top of one disk of dough, where the X meets. Press down gently so it sticks. Repeat for the other little ball of dough.

Glaze the dough balls and bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. While they are still warm, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Makes 3 loaves.

Which Halloween candies are the most unhealthy?

Time for candy corn, cavities and upset stomachs. It’s Halloween season, and there will be plenty of candy for kids and parents to munch. But, which ones should you avoid? Most of them aren’t great for you, but a specific few are especially bad.

Related: Best Halloween festivals, parties in town

photo Halloween party
Children pick out Halloween candy. (Palm Beach Post file photo)

In a list on The Daily Meal, the website listed staple candy favorites such as 3 Musketeers, Sour Patch Kids, Milky Way, Butterfingers and Snickers among the unhealthiest candy given out at Halloween. Lucky for Florida, Crunch wasn’t in the ranking, which was just discovered to be the state’s favorite brand.

According to The Daily Meal, 3 Musketeers was listed as the unhealthiest candy because one bar contains 240 calories, 36 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of saturated fat. Even though it advertises itself as the “lighter way,” the site says the candy bar “contains trans-fat hiding in the form of hydrogenated palm kernel oil.”

photo halloween candy
Various Halloween candy. (Contributed)

Other unhealthy facts include: 36 grams of sugar and 140 calories in one 2-ounce box of Sour Patch Kids, 275 calories and 29 grams of sugar in one Butterfingers bar, 24 grams of sugar and 250 calories in one fun size pack of Twix and 50 calories and 12 grams of sugar in one mini box of Nerds.

Calories aside….Vote now for your favorite!

Critic’s pick: Day of the Dead brunching at Rocco’s Tacos

This large Mexican skull mask, evoking Day of the Dead imagery, hangs on the wall at Rocco's Tacos in Palm Beach Gardens. (J. Gwendolynne Berry/The Palm Beach Post)
Evoking the Day of the Dead at Rocco’s Tacos. (J. Gwendolynne Berry/ The Palm Beach Post)

Central county pick: ROCCO’S TACOS

You can join the costumed masses in their takeover of Clematis Street at Moonfest Saturday night, or you can opt for a different type of other-worldly experience on Sunday. That’s when Rocco’s Tacos celebrates the Day of the Dead, the Mexican-inspired celebration of the dearly departed and their favorite dishes.

Fortunately for the living and the celebrated dead, this Dia de los Muertos falls on a Sunday, when Rocco’s serves one of the best brunches anywhere in Palm Beach County. Brunch kicks off at 11 a.m. and goes to 4 p.m. My favorite bite on the menu: The Benedict Azteca, Rocco’s Mexican take on traditional Eggs Benedict. Earthy masa sopes cradle poached eggs, pork chunks and spinach, are ladled with chipotle cream and served with griddled potatoes.

At Rocco's, Mexican corn and a fancy margarita. (Contributed)
At Rocco’s, Mexican corn and a fancy margarita. (Contributed)

For the pairing at brunch, there are $12 endless Bloody Marys and mimosas, plus there are $3 Corona bottles and $3 Modelos at the bar all day.

Later, from 4 to 8 p.m., the party transitions to night with sugar skull-inspired makeup sessions and DJ-spun music. The full day’s celebration is not limited to Clematis Street – it happens at all six Rocco’s locations in Florida, including Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Palm Beach Gardens.

Rocco’s Tacos: 224 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-650-1001; RoccosTacos.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

 

Critic’s pick: Hudson Delray hosts ‘Nauti Hallow’s Eve’

Halloween inevitably inspires spooky cocktails. (Cox Newspapers)
Halloween inevitably inspires spooky cocktails. (Cox Newspapers)

South county pick: HUDSON DELRAY

Halloween night at this seafood-centric spot in Delray Beach comes with a water view. In addition to its full menu, served in the dining room, Hudson is throwing a “Nauti Hallow’s Eve” bash Saturday night. The party starts at 6 p.m. on the newly revamped outdoor bar.

Related: The best Halloween events in Palm Beach county

For the occasion, the eatery is serving a special “Fangtastic Flatbread” ($8), made with roasted butternut squash, ricotta, sage and sunflower seeds. For the pairing, there will be appropriately spooky sips, like Pumpkin Smashed Martinis ($8), Jack O’Lantern Shots ($3) and Witches Brew ($5).

A view of Hudson at East Waterway in Delray Beach from the Intracoastal. (Contributed)
A view of Hudson at East Waterway in Delray Beach from the Intracoastal. (Contributed)

Diners and revelers are invited to dress up and take part in Hudson’s “mischievous” costume contest.

Hudson, at Waterway East: 900 E. Atlantic Ave., #22, Delray Beach; 561-303-1343; HudsonDelray.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda