Tamales de Chocolate are delicious served with fresh berries, custard sauce and
1 (8 ounce) package dried cornhusks
About 9 ounces Mexican chocolate (1 1/2 cups pulverized)
10 ounces (1 1/3 cups) unsalted butter, rich-tasting pork lard or vegetable shortening (or use a combination), slightly softened but not at all runny
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 pounds (about 4 cups) fresh coarse-ground corn masa for tamales or 3 1/2 cups dried Masa Harina for tamales mixed with 2 1/4 cups hot water
About 1 cup milk or water
2/3 cup raisins or coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate (optional)
For serving, optional: Assorted fresh berries, custard sauce, mint sprigs
Preparing the cornhusks. Cover the husks with very hot water, weight with
a plate to keep them submerged, and let stand for a couple of hours until the
husks are pliable.
For forming the tamales, separate out 24 of the largest and most pliable
husks — ones that are at least 6 inches across on the wider end and 6
or 7 inches long. If you can't find enough good ones, overlap some of the
large ones to give wide, sturdy surfaces to spread the batter on. Pat the chosen
husks dry with a towel.
Preparing the batter. Roughly chop the Mexican chocolate, then pulverize
it in a food processor. You should have 1 1/2 cups. With an electric mixer on
medium-high speed, beat the butter, lard and/or shortening with the Mexican
chocolate, sugar, salt and baking powder until light and fluffy in texture,
about 3 minutes. Continue beating as you add the masa (fresh or reconstituted)
in three additions. Reduce the speed to medium-low, then add the milk or water.
Continue beating for another minute or so, until a 1/2-teaspoon dollop of the
batter floats in a cup of cold water (if it floats you can be sure the tamales
will be tender and light).
Beat in a little additional milk or water if needed to give the mixture
the consistency of soft (not runny) cake batter; it should hold its shape in
For the lightest textured tamales, refrigerate the batter for an hour or
so, then re-beat, adding enough additional milk or water to bring the mixture
to the soft consistency it had before.
Setting up the steamer. Steaming 24 husk-wrapped tamales can be done in
batches in a collapsible vegetable steamer set into a large, deep saucepan.
To steam them all at once, you need something like the kettle-size tamal steamers
used in Mexico or Asian stack steamers, or you can improvise by setting a wire
rack on 4 coffee or custard cups in a large kettle. It is best to line the rack
or upper part of the steamer with leftover cornhusks to protect the tamales
from direct contact with the steam and to add more flavor. Make sure to leave
tiny spaces between the husks so condensing steam can drain off.
Forming the tamales. Cut twenty-four 8 or 10-inch pieces of string or thin
strips of cornhusks. One at a time, form the tamales: Lay out one of your chosen
cornhusks with the tapering end toward you. Spread about 1/4 cup of the batter
into a 4-inch square, leaving at least a 1 1/2-inch border on the side toward
you and a 3/4-inch border along the other sides (with large husks, the borders
will be much bigger). Sprinkle a few raisins or chocolate pieces (if using)
down the center of the batter. Pick up the two long sides of the cornhusk and
bring them together (this will cause the batter to surround the raisins). If
the uncovered borders of the two long sides you're holding are narrow, tuck
one side under the other; if wide, then roll both sides in the same direction
around the tamal. (If the husk is small, you may feel more comfortable wrapping
the tamal in a second husk.) Finally, fold up the empty 1 1/2-inch section of
the husk (to form a tightly closed "bottom," leaving the top open),
and secure it in place by loosely tying one of the strings or strips of husk
around the tamal.
As they're made, stand the tamales on their folded bottoms in the prepared
steamer. Don't tie the tamales too tightly or pack them too closely in the
steamer. They need room to expand.
Steaming and serving the tamales. When all the tamales are in the steamer,
cover them with a layer of leftover cornhusks; if your husk-wrapped tamales
don't take up the entire steamer, fill in the open spaces with loosely wadded
aluminum foil (to keep the tamales from falling down). Set the lid in place
and steam over a constant medium heat for about 1 1/4 hours. Watch carefully
that all the water doesn't boil away and, to keep the steam steady, pour
boiling water into the pot when more is necessary.
Tamales are done when the husk peels away from the masa easily. Let tamales
stand in the steamer off the heat for a few minutes to firm up. For the best
textured tamales, let them cool completely, then re-steam about 15 minutes to
Serve tamales opened up on a plate with a sprinkling of fresh berries, a
spoonful or two of custard sauce and garnished with mint sprigs.
Yield: 24 tamales
Working Ahead: Both filling and batter can be made several days ahead, as
can the finished tamales; refrigerate, well cover. Re-steam (or even microwave)
tamales before serving. For even more flexibility, batter, filling or finished
tamales can be frozen. Defrost finished tamales in the refrigerator overnight
Posted by Tiffany at Recipe Goldmine 5:39:37pm 11/1/03.