Tamales take on a special importance during the traditional Latino celebration of Las Posadas in December. It’s a time to gather with friends and family to share our faith and love, often expressed through food.
For this recipe, I am incorporating the sweetened cinnamon-rice flavors from Cacique® Strawberry Horchata into the masa, or dough. The masa will take on a light pink hue, to gently hint at what is inside. The filling is an eggy custard-like pudding made from Cacique® Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie mixed with freshly diced strawberries.
We are lucky in Southern California to still have fresh strawberries available to us this time of year, but if you’re having a tough time finding fresh strawberries, try using other berries or drained frozen strawberries. Either way, the Cacique® Strawberry Yogurt filling is going to knock your socks off. It reminds me of eating a pan dulce that my mom used to buy for me at the Bowie Bakery growing up in El Paso. While perfectly matched with the Strawberry Horchata masa, the strawberry Yogurt filling would be great in a tart or layered between cakes.
I hope you approach this recipe with love and patience, as that is how it was created. If you’ve never made tamales before, this is a good place to start. Unlike savory tamales, this Strawberry Horchata Masa is firmer and easier to manipulate. Make them today, and freeze them for the holidays.
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WHAT YOU NEED
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- 1 cup water
- 1 (7 ounce) Cacique® Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie
- 5 large eggs
- 2/3 cup white granulated sugar
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups, diced strawberries
- 2-3 drops red food coloring
- 40-50 corn husks, softened in boiling water, drained, then patted dry
- For the Masa:
- 2 ½ - 3 cups lard or butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 7 cups corn flour (masa harina)
- 3 ½ cups Cacique® Strawberry Horchata
HOW TO MAKE IT
- Make a concentrated cinnamon water by boiling the cinnamon and water until it is reduced to a single tablespoon. Reserve.
- In a blender, combine the Cacique® Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie, eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Pulse until fully combined, scraping down sides as needed. With the blender on, slowly pour in the cinnamon water. It is such a small amount it should not cook the eggs as long as the machine is running.
- Pour the mixture into a non-stick sauce pot. And place over a medium-low flame. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens, about 10-15 minutes. This is a filling for the tamales, so it should be pretty thick, even thicker than pastry cream.
- Press through a sieve or run through the blender again if you have lumps. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the film is touching the yogurt mixture. Allow to cool. Once cool mix in the diced strawberries and a few drops of food coloring. Reserve.
- Make the masa: Using a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the baking powder and salt. Mix in the flour and Cacique® strawberry Horchata, incorporating both incrementally as you go until the dough is formed. This should only take a few minutes. (Use your judgment regarding the consistency: it should be like soft sugar cookie dough. If for some reason it is too thick simply drizzle in a little more horchata, and if it is too thin, mix in a little more corn flour.)
- Assembly: Make sure your hojas (corn husks) are pliable from soaking in hot water, but pat them dry before using. You’ll be working on the smoother side of the hojas.
- Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, place a scoop of Strawberry Horchata Masa in the center of your corn husk. (The dough should be firm enough for an ice cream scoop, and it’ll make your tamales all uniform in size. For the yield on this recipe I used a size 16 scoop, which roughly a ¼ cup.) Using your fingers or a spoon, spread the strawberry horchata masa to resemble a rectangle about a ¼ inch thick, and taking care to leave a ½ inch border on all sides.
- Place a tablespoon of the strawberry yogurt filling down the center of the masa. With the tamal horizontal to your body, gently fold the long ends of the husk toward each other, like a trifold letter. In doing so, you should have sealed the filling within the masa, or most of it at least. Don’t worry if it is a little messy at first, it’ll just take practice. You’ll end up with a big cigar shaped tamale. Tie the ends of the tamal with strips of softened corn husks.
- At this stage you can freeze the strawberry yogurt tamales for future use or proceed to cook them as instructed below.
- Arrange the tamales standing up in a steamer. Cover and steam for about 30-40 minutes. Any more and you’ll end up with dry tamales. Then remove the tamales to a platter and allow to cool slightly before eating. The cooling will also help to set the tamales.
- Enjoy on their own, or with a dollop of whipped cream. You can also use any leftover strawberry yogurt filling to serve with your tamales.