Skull and Crossbones Conchas

Aren’t these adorable? The recipe and inspiration for these Skull and Crossbones Conchas comes from these super festive Spooky Conchas from Black Magic Cakery. I fell in love with her Halloween version of Mexican pan dulce where instead of the classic shell pattern cut into the sugary topping, she cut out jack-o-lanterns and pentagrams . They were so cute and clever that I just had to try a version of them, and I will tell you that this sweet bread recipe of hers is…To. Die. For. It’s soft and airy with a buttery sugar streusel topping. It is so delicious, it’s like a light and airy cinnamon roll.  And they are pretty easy to make, although you do have to have a little patience for the dough to rise, but other than that, the result is definitely worth the wait. Enjoy!

Skull and Crossbones Conchas

Trick or Treat. Give me something good to this deliciously festive skeleton crew of Mexican pan dulce.
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Course: bread, Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: breakfast, Halloween, Halloween Food, pan dulce, skulls, sweet bread
Servings: 12


  • ~3" Skull and crossbones cookie cutter and ~3.5- 4"circle cutter.


Pan Dulce

  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 6 tbsp sugar, divided (1T and 5T)
  • cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tbsp ground cinnamon
  • cups all purpose flour

Skull and Crossbones Sugar Toppers

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • black gel food coloring
  • cinnamon or vanilla sugar (for sprinkling)


Pan Dulce

  • Combine yeast, 1 tbsp of sugar and warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit for 10 minutes. Add the butter, remaining 5 tbsp of sugar, milk and salt, egg, vanilla, and cinnamon and mix until combined.
  • Swap mixer paddle with a dough hook and add ½ of the flour mixture until incorporated. Add the rest of the flour and continue to mix until the dough releases from the sides of the mixer. Turn dough out of bowl and roll into a ball.
    (Weigh the dough with a kitchen scale(~36oz). To make 12 evenly sized rolls divide by 12 to calculate the weight of dough needed for each concha.)
  • Wash, dry, and grease the mixer bowl and then add the dough, turning to coat with oil. Cover and let rise for 2 hours or until doubled. Meanwhile, prepare the Skull and Crossbones toppers below.
  • Once the dough has doubled, punch down and weigh out 12 pieces (~3 oz. each) and roll into smooth balls. Place them on parchment lined cookie sheets, 3 inches apart, cover and let rise until doubled. (1-1½hours)

Skull and Crossbones Sugar Toppers

  • Cream butter and powdered sugar together. Add vanilla extract and then add flour. Knead with your hands until you have a smooth sugar dough.
  • Roll out sugar dough between two pieces of plastic or parchment to about 1/4" thickness. Cut out 12 skull and crossbones with 2" or 3" cookie cutter and place cutouts on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Use a large hole straw to punch out the eyes. Blow through the straw to remove cutout dough and add it back to the rest of the dough.
  • Use a corner of a star cookie cutter to press a nose onto each skull. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate skulls to firm up while you work on the black sugar dough.
  • To the remaining sugar dough, add black gel food color knead until food coloring is incorporated. Roll out black sugar dough to about 1/4" thickness. Use a 4-inch round cookie cutter and cut out circles and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Cut out a skull and crossbones from the center of each black circle, adding the black cutout skull back to your sugar dough to reuse until you've made 12 circles.
  • Remove white skulls from the refrigerator and check firmness. If they are firm enough to pick up, add them to the skull cutouts of your black circles. If they are still too soft, refrigerate until firm.
  • Use the large hole straw again to punch out small black dough eyes and blow through the end of the straw to add them to your skull eye sockets.
  • When the skull and crossbones have softened after sitting out for a bit, cut in details with a paring knife, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.


  • During the last 20 minutes of rising time, preheat oven to 375°F.
  • NOTE: Once your rolls have doubled in size and depending on their size you may have to cut down the black circle of your topping by using a smaller cookie cutter. I had to cut around the topping to make it a little smaller to fit the top of the sweet bread dough. If the topper is too large it will just melt around the dough and you don't want that. You want it to only bake on the top and begin to separate as it bakes up golden brown. I made these a few times with different amounts of dough and I found that as a general guide: 3" topper for 3 oz. dough, 4" topper for 4 oz. dough...etc.
  • Place the skull and crossbones toppers on top of dough.
  • Bake at 375°F for 15-18 minutes or until bread is golden brown. Let cool and sprinkle with vanilla or cinnamon sugar. Enjoy!


Slightly adapted recipe from Black Magic Cakery.

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