Day of the Dead Recipes

My version of Tres Leches cake with Dulce de Leche
frosting-I actually frosted it with whipped cream and drizzled Dulce de Leche over the top

In this section you will find the following recipes:

 - Dulche de Leche

 - Tres Leches cake

 - Apple Cider Sangria

 - Caramels

 - Prosciutto-wrapped Asparagus

 - Truffled Man and Cheese  (Mac and Cheese, but my daughter pointed out my typo and I thought it was funny so I left it!)

 - Pan de Muertos (Mexican Bread of the Dead)


Let's start with the sweet stuff!

Tres Leches vs Dulche De Leche

So..sweet caramelized milk, often made from sweetened condensed milk, is called Dulce De Leche.  It can be made on the stove, in a conventional oven, or in the microwave.  Although I have boiled cans of sweetened condensed milk on the stovetop until it turns into caramelized deliciousness, I would not recommend it because, frankly, it is dangerous if the water is not covering the cans at all times.  I recently tried the oven method and it worked well and was just as delicious.  Try this link to peruse all three methods.

Here is the oven method:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Pour 1 can (14 oz) Carnation Sweetened Condensed Milk into a 9-inch pie plate.  I used a glass one.  Cover with foil and place in a shallow pan larger than the pie plate.  Fill pan with hot water.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until thick and light caramel in color.  Cool and spoon into a small mixer bowl.  Beat until smooth.

Once you have this delicious brown creamy stuff, what can you do with it?  Well, besides eating it from a spoon, you could put it on ice cream, use it as a filling in a cake, make a Banofee Pie, or make a Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche frosting.

For the Banoffee Pie Recipe go to:



  • Tres Leches cake mix

    You certainly can make this cake from scratch, but this mix was really good!

  • Dulche de Leche creamer

    Ok. I've got to stop this.

  • Dulche de Leche Milano cookies

    A new flavor of my favorite cookie! I promise I will stop now.

Tres Leches Cake with Dulce de Leche frosting

My Tres Leches cake before frosting. Whether you make one from scratch or from a mix, the cake is poked and soaked with a combination of sweetened milks and cream.

Tres Leches, or Torta de Tres Leches, is a sponge cake.  In some recipes, a butter cake, that is soaked in three kinds of milk:  evaporated, condensed, and heavy cream.  Many of the recipes I found use homemade or purchased Dulce de Leche either drizzled over the top, or whipped with cream to make the frosting. 

I like this recipe from - reference Spring baking Dulce de Leche Tres Leches cake recipe from Kraft.

I did not find this cake specifically mentioned with Day of the Dead celebrations, but it is delicious and has been a staple in Mexico and other South American countries since the 1900's, along with evaporated and sweetened canned milks, so it seems an appropriate dessert for the occasion.


  • Apple Cider Sangria

    Recipe from pbs food
    Makes 6 servings
    1 bottle or 750 ml of Moscato wine (semi-sweet white)
    1 cup light rum
    1 1/2 cups apple cider
    1 cup ginger ale
    Apple slices for serving
    Directions: In a large pitcher, combine all ingredients and stir well. Serve over ice.

  • Homemade Caramels

    2 cups sugar
    1 cup cream + 1 cup more during slow cooking process
    1 cup butter
    1 3/4 cups light corn syrup
    Slow boil all ingredients (only 1 cup of the cream) for 30 minutes. Add 2nd cup of cream and return to slow boil. Bring to firm ball stage on candy thermometer (this takes a long time). Pour (without stirring) into a well-buttered sheet pan. Allow to cool. Cut into bite-sized pieces and wrap individually in waxed paper.


Eat your vegetables
(wrapped in prosciutto of course)

Prosciutto-wrapped Asparagus

These spears pack quite a salty whallop - I would cut each one into two pieces and wrap each approx. 3 inch stem.








Preheat oven to 400 F


Bunch of fresh asparagus                                                                                  

Prosciutto - approximately 1/4 of a pound per bunch of asparagus


Wash asparagus and break off bottom of stalks at breaking point.  Cut each in half. Cut large pieces of prosciutto lengthwise to create long rectangular pieces and cut in half again to make approx. 3 inch strips.  Wrap one rectangle around each asparagus piece.  Place wrapped spears onto shallow baking sheet.  Bake batches of asparagus for approximately 20 minutes, checking to see that the marbling in the prosciutto is cooked and light brown.  Remove asparagus and cool on a rack. These can be stored in foil wrap in the fridge until served or served warm directly out of the oven. 


  • Truffled Mac and Cheese - it's all about the rue! *See the original version with shitake and cremini mushrooms and using truffle butter at Ina Garten's Food Network site.

    Prep time: 30 min
    Cook time: 1 hour
    Servings: 6-8
    Preheat: 375 F
    3 T unsalted butter
    3 T Truffle oil or truffle infused olive oil
    3 T cream sherry
    1 lb. macaroni pasta
    1/2 cup flour
    1 quart milk or cream, scalded
    12 oz smoked Gouda, grated (4 cups)
    8 oz sharp Cheddar, grated
    (2 1/2 to 3 cups)
    1 tsp ground pepper
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    2 garlic cloves, chopped
    2 T fresh parsley
    1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
    Olive oil

  • Crunchy topping - I actually used cilantro instead of parsley

    1. Boil a large pot of water with pinch of salt and splash of olive oil. Cook pasta for 6-8 minutes, until al dente.
    2. Scald milk or cream in a saucepan, being careful not to let it boil.
    3. Melt the butter and truffle oil in a large (4 quart) saucepan on low heat and whisk in flour. Cook for 2 minutes over low heat, constantly whisking. Slowly stir in the scalded milk or cream with a wooden spoon, until the white sauce is thick and creamy.
    4. Off the heat, add the cheese a bit at a time, 1 1/2 T of salt, the pepper, and nutmeg - stir until smooth.

  • Individual servings for a party before going into the oven

    Directions continued:
    5. Combine the pasta and sauce in a large bowl and pour them into buttered individual oven-safe dishes or a papered cupcake pan.
    6. Finely mince the garlic, chop parsley or cilantro, and mix with the bread crumbs. Pour a splash of olive oil in a skillet, add the bread crumb mixture, and heat on medium until saturated. Sprinkle the crumbs over the pasta.
    7. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the sauce bubbles and the crumbs are golden brown.

Pan de Muerto - Mexican Bread of the Dead
Photo: Whatscookingamerica

Anise flavored Pan de Muerto

My Pan de Muerto before baking

My sister did not serve this at her party, but I came across several versions of this tradional loaf, made it, and fell in love with its sweet and crunchy goodness.  The glaze would be great on any sweet bread loaf, and if you can't eat this hot I would suggest using it the next day as toast.  It would also be supurb as a braided loaf for Christmas.

Recipe from

Makes 1 loaf

Preheat oven to 350 F


5 tsp orange zest, 1/4 cup orange juice, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup butter or margarine,  1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast, 3cups all purpose flour, 2 tsp anise seed, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup water


1.  Heat the milk and butter together in a medium saucepan, until the butter melts.  Remove from heat and add the warm water.  The mixture should be around 110 F.

2.  In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and 1/4 cup of the sugar.  Beat in the warm milk mixture then add the eggs and orange zest and beat until well combined.  Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and continue adding more flour until the dough is soft.

3.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

4.  Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl and cove rwith plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size - 1-2 hrs.  Punch the dough down and shape it into one round loaf with a round knob on top.  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.

5.  Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for about 35-45 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Let cool slightly then brush with glaze.

6.  To make glaze:  In a small saucepan combine the 1/4 cup sugar, orange juice and orange zest.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes.  Brush over top of bread while still warm.  Srinkle glazed bread with white or colored sugar.