Dia de Los Muertos – Chocolate Skull Cake

Today I want to share a Holiday that is very dear to my heart, Dia de Los Muertos.  A time to reflect on the loved ones we have lost, celebrate their lives and rejoice in knowing their legacy will be carried on with our children.  Sugar skulls and Cempasúchil (marigolds) are a placed on the Altar to honor the dead. With my familia being in town for an extended Halloween Fiesta we took the chance to explain this Holiday to the children.  As the kids worked on making papel picado and handmade marigolds my mom spoke of this Holiday’s rich history.  To end the evening on a sweet note instead of sugar skulls I baked one of my favorite chocolate cakes in shape of a skull.


Dia de Los Muertos is an ancient Aztec celebration of death, the  bittersweet companion to life.  All life must come to an end, so why not  celebrate death as we do life?  As the Europeans arrived in Mexico,  both the Catholic religion and the Aztec celebration intertwined.  Dia de  Los Muertos is celebrated on from October 31 to November 2.  In these days  the lives of our dead are celebrated.  These celebrations include  festivities, food, a family altar, sharing favorite stories of the  deceased and joyful visits to the grave sites.  In the United States  families of Mexican descent are celebrating Dia de Los Muertos more and more  each year, making for Dia de Los Muertos in becoming a widely  popular holiday.

A Glossary for Dia de los Muertos 

Altar – A display honoring departed love one, built in homes throughout  Mexico each year during Day of the Dead celebrations. Offerings are placed on  the altars. 

La Noche de Duelo – The Night of Mourning, the beginning of Dia de los  Muertos in Mexico. On this night, friends and relatives bring food, flowers, and  decorations to the cemetery in a candlelight procession. 

Los Angelitos – Children who have died, remembered on All Saints’ Day  Nov. 1st 

Ofrenda – Offerings placed on the altar, sometimes representing the four  elements of earth, air, fire, and water. Earth is represented by food placed at  the altar; air is symbolized by papel picado, elaborate paper cutouts that  flutter on the breeze. fire is represented in scented candles that decorate the  altar, and water is often left in a bowl. Other offerings include personal  mementos of the deceased. 


Our family celebrates this yearly tradition with a week long  celebration of honoring our loved ones with a family altar.  In our  altar we showcase favorite family photos of our departed, papel picado,  candy skulls, flowers and personal  mementos.  Tiny sculptures of their favorite food or  beverage made of Alfeniquen are also placed on the  altar.  During this festive week we as a family recreate their  favorite meals to enjoy as we share their lives with our  children.  This week long celebration fills my heart with  great joy as I honor my departed all while introducing  my children to loved ones they were not fortunate to meet.  As my  children grow they will in turn gain knowledge of their  heritage and begin learning how to cope with future  loss as our altar continues the addition of family members.  I  hope when they are adults they will learn to celebrate death as part of life,  knowing that each year on Dia de Los Muertos our departed with return to  shower us with love.


Chocolate Cake

from MI Chita’sMexican Chocolate Dessert Recipes

by Teresa Cordero Cordell and Robert Cordell


6 eggs separated

2 cups light brown sugar

2 cups flour

1/2 cup cocoa

2 tsp baking powder

2/3 cups milk

2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350

lightly grease and dust with cocoa powder 2 cake pans (9inch). (skull pan)

combine flour, cocoa, baking powder in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl combine milk and vanilla.

Beat the 6 eggs whites until stiff.

Reduce speed and gradually ad the brown sugar to beaten egg whites.

After sugar dissolves add yolks and beat for three minutes.

On medium low speed, alternate flour and milk mixture to eggs until  blended.

Pour equally into prepared cakes pans.

bake 30 to 35 minutes.

Serve with sweet whipped topping or ice cream.

Source: Amazon for skull pan

Wilton Skull Cake Pan











  1. says

    Wow, I cannot believe that I’ve been reading your blog for over a year—I remember reading your post about Dia De Los Muertos last year. Anywho,I really like hearing about it because it sounds like a great time of gathering: celebrating life :] That’s a spooky looking cake.
    fattydumpling recently posted..Harry Potter’s Pumpkin PastiesMy Profile

  2. says

    Such a beautiful written post. I’ve heard from this Mexican holiday only from other bloggers and movies. I wish one I get to visit Mexico around this holiday and enjoy all the celebrations.

    The cake looks great, you did such an amazing job! Congrats!

  3. says

    I loved reading about this!

    Although my family is not Latino, my grandparents are buried in a cemetary that is predominantly Latino, and we always LOVE to watch the joyful celebrations at the cemetary this time of year! We’ve alway said “hey, they have it figured out! we should celebrate life and be happy, not be tearful at the graves.” I think we shall take part this year!

    Thanks for sharing part of your history and heritage :)
    DessertForTwo recently posted..Banana BreadMy Profile

  4. says

    I really love this holiday and I wish it were celebrated more throughout the US! There’s such a great message behind it! (And such delicious cake to be eaten!)

  5. says

    Aww, how beautiful. I was looking forward to your post on Dia de los Muertos this year. I hadn’t heard about the marigolds before, but it seems so nice. Such a vibrant flower to celebrate the life once lived. I also love the sugar on that skull!


  6. says

    This is such a great holiday. I think it makes all the sense to try be at peace with death, and celebrate it! After all, dying is the most natural thing there is! The cake looks kinda creepy, haha, but hey, I would never say no to a piece of chocolate cake! And it’s perfect for the ocassion.

  7. says

    Its amazing how some cultures are so similar because I’m portuguese and in Portugal we celebrate “O dia dos mortos” more or less in the some way as you just describe yours.
    The cake must be a very enjoyable treat after such an emotional day :))) – and it looks spooky and delicious…!!


  1. […] Dia de Los Muertos is fast approaching and I wanted to share an activity I did with the kids.  I found this gem on Pinterest and knew it would be perfect for hot chocolate.  Few supplies are needed which is always a plus.  I picked up a few coffee mugs at our local dollar store, handed the kiddos a few sharpies and we were on our way! […]

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