Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chocolatada: Day of the Dead Chocolate Party

I threw a chocolate party last Friday to commemorate the Day of the Dead holiday. Why chocolate? Well, everyone loves chocolate! Chocolate was also a sacred food to ancient Mexicans so I found it very appropriate to celebrate this ancient holiday using a chocolate theme. Here's some tips if you want to organize a Day of the Dead chocolatada (chocolate feast) of your own:

Start your party late in the evening so your guests get a chance to eat dinner on their own, if they choose to. Any time after 7:00 or 8:00 pm should give your guests plenty of time to eat a light meal.

I set up two food tables: one with dark chocolate and vegan alternatives, and a more festive "ofrenda" (offering) with more traditional Mexican elements and milk chocolate. My ofrenda had the customary pan de muerto (pictured above), fruit, paper cutouts and traditional marigolds that have been used to honor the dead in Mexico for centuries. I baked two batches of chocolate cutout cookies the night before for both tables. They are relatively easy, and a lot of fun to decorate.

I served two kinds of chocolate fondue with fruit skewers for dipping. Chocolate melts better if you apply even heat slowly. Start melting your chocolate at least an hour before the party starts on a double broiler. Make sure all your utensils are dry and no moisture gets in the chocolate or it will clump. In order for your guest not to get overwhelmed with too much sweetness its a good idea to serve some savories. I made some black bean guacamole and mango salsa and served them with blue corn chips and beet chips. I also had mini pastry shells with mole sauce and roasted veggies. To complete the dark chocolate table I added cascades of black lace, dry pasilla and negro chiles, figs, black grapes and plums. A chocolate cake and brownies completed the table.

No chocolatada can be complete without some hot chocolate. I used tablets of Chocolate Ibarra and Chocolate Abuelita and mixed them with hot low fat milk and soy milk. A little bit of the pasilla and negro chiles was added to the blender in order to make a delicious spicy and sweet drink. A little bit of Mexican vanilla also gives the chocolate a wonderful scent. Please make sure you get authentic Mexican vanilla, it really makes a big difference. One of my guests said it was the best hot chocolate she had ever tasted! You can get Ibarra and Abuelita hot chocolate tablets at MexGrocer, I get my vanilla from Xanath in San Francisco.

The black clay skull and candle holder come from Oaxaca, but any dark hued pottery or tarnished silver will do if you want to create a dark table. The man shaped candle comes from a botanica on the Mission district. I also found several goodies and decorations in my neighborhood and on-line. The chocolate cosmos and dark dahlias are from Birch. The chocolate skulls and licorice/chocolate lentils are from Miette. The plastic plates and cups are reusable. I got them from Smarty Had A Party. Have a safe and fun holiday. And remember to brush your teeth!

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