Traditionally, pan de muerto is perfumed with orange blossom water, has dough adornments
on top that represent bones, and then is baked and dusted in sugar. Similar to a baked brie,
this dish envelopes panela cheese and something sweet into a flaky puff pastry crust that,
when finished, resembles pan de muerto but has a tasty, sweet and savory surprise inside!
I’ve used quince paste in this recipe, known as membrillo in Spanish; you can also substitute
guava paste if you prefer.
Baked panela cheese for Day of the Dead
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 sheet puff pastry (such as Pepperidge Farms, found in your grocer’s freezer
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
5 ounces Cacique panela cheese
2 ½ ounces quince paste (also known as membrillo)
1 medium egg, beaten (for egg wash)
- Lightly flour the surface of a large cutting board and unfold the puff pastry sheet to
defrost for about 45 minutes to an hour.
- When defrosted, use a rolling pin to gently roll out the puff pastry both horizontally
and vertically. With a sharp knife, cut away one panel of puff pastry and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut a 10-ounce round of Cacique panela cheese in half-lengthwise. Save the other
half in a plastic zippered bag for another use. Place the other half of the cheese in
the center of the remaining puff pastry.
- Cut small strips of quince paste (membrillo), weighted to 2 ½ ounces, and place on
top of the panela cheese.
- Wrap the puff pastry over the top of the cheese and quince paste like an envelope.
- Cut three strips from the remaining puff pastry panel; this will simulate a pan de
muerto decoration on top. Roll two of the strips and place on top of the puff pastry in
the shape of an X. Tear the third strip in half and roll one half into a ball. Place the
ball in the middle of the X. Discard the rest of the leftover puff pastry or use for
- Place the finished puff pastry envelope on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Beat the egg and use a pastry brush to give the puff pastry an egg wash on top and
around the edges.
- Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then slice and serve.
If serving for an appetizer or dessert outside of Day of the Dead, you can leave off the pastry
adornments that simulate the decor of pan de muerto. Just be sure to fold the puff pastry
completely shut and then varnish with an egg wash.