Calavera Conchas

Calavera Conchas

These Calavera Conchas came to me in a dream. I was setting up my alter for Dia De Los Muertos and kept saying I wanted something that would pop. A voice with no face suggested conchas. I’m not sure if it was a subconscious element that suggested conchas since that is what my Grandfather used to eat with his coffee or if it was my grandfather paying me a visit in dream form. I woke up and knew I had to bring them to life. I hope you will make them and let them pop on your alter…. not to mention they are absolutely delicious!


Ingredients for Calavera Conchas:

  • 3 teaspoons active yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water – (warm to the touch but not burning) between 100 and 110 degrees fahrenheit.
  • 3 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup + 1/8 cup bakers sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup) room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste

Concha Topping:

  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • food coloring gel of your choice


  1. In a small bowl combine yeast and warm water together to activate yeast. Mix to combine and allow to get frothy. This will take about 15 minutes. In the meantime assemble to the dough.
  2. Add bread flour, sugar, and salt to a stand mixer and whisk together.
  3. Then change the attachment to a dough hook and add in butter. Mix until all the butter is incorporated and forms tiny little peas like shapes with the dough.
  4. Add in eggs, and vanilla, and continue mixing until incorporated. The dough will look shaggy and a but floury still.
  5. Now add the activated yeast/water mixture. This will bring the dough together perfectly. Allow to mix with dough hook for about 10 minutes on medium. The dough will be soft and pul easily.
  6. Remove from mixer and place in a floured surface. Knead for a minute or two and shape into a ball.
  7. Place dough in greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  8. Let dough double in size for 2 to 3 hours in a warm place (80 to 85 degrees).

Let’s make the topping:

  1. While the dough is rising let’s get the topping ready.
  2. Add shortening and confectioners sugar to the stand up mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix until combined.
  3. Slowly pour in flour until completely combined. If the mixture is does not come together easily when done add a tablespoon of flour in until it becomes paste like.
  4. Divide the topping into as many portions as you’d like. I doubled these measurements and used half of the topping dough plain (white) and with the rest I divided to mix in color.
  5. Take a portion of topping and mix in food coloring gel until the color you desire is achieved. We are about to have Calavera Conchas.

Let’s shape our conchas:

  1. Once the dough has doubled in size divide it into 16 even pieces. Weigh them if you have a scale. If not try and get them as uniform as possible.
  2. Grease two baking sheets and your hands. Then roll each piece of dough into a ball and flatten slightly between the hands. to make a perfect round thick disk. Rub a little grease on the top of each dough disk.
  3. Once all dough is shaped place in a warm place to double in size. This will take about 2 hours. In that time you can start decorating your conchas.

Adding the topping:

  1. First let’s make the base of the calavera face. Take a tablespoon of white topping and with floured hands roll into a ball. Make 16 balls total for the conchas.
  2. Line a tortilla press with floured parchment paper or a plastic bag. Then place topping ball in the middle and press down to make a flattened disk.
  3. Carefully remove disk from press and place on top of concha. Repeat until all conchas are covered.
  4. With a small pairing knife, I scored the concha topping to create the lines once it was already placed on the dough.
  5. Now you are free to decorate as you wish with the remaining colors of concha topping. I treated the colors as I would playdough and did all the shaping with my hands. I make little heart noses, petal like shapes for teeth, crosses for head adornments, and round eyes in various colors. You can make your concha as ornate as you’s like or keep it simple. I used a toothpick for finer detail shaping. It was so much fun and the Calavera Conchas are so cute.


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Bake conchas for 20 minutes or until golden on the bottom.
  3. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes on the baking sheet then place on a cooling rack and let come to room temp.
  4. Enjoy!

Check out my pan de muerto if you’re still in the mood to bake!



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