The dessert for my cooking class featuring the food of Central Mexico was Tamales de Dulce (sweet tamales). Sweet tamales are usually only made up for festive occasions such Candlemas (February 2, the midpoint of winter) or First Communion.
According to our instructor, Chef Rossana, the name of these treats come from the indigenous word ‘tamalli‘ meaning wrapped. In this class we used corn husks for wrappings, but they can also be made of banana or avocado leaves, or ‘hoja santa‘ (holy leaf).
We started the class by prepping the dough for tamales de dulce (sweet tamales), as they had the longest cooking time. Although I knew about savory tamales, the sweet versions were a delightful surprise. A gooey mixture of masa (corn dough), butter, sugar, pink food colouring known as ‘rosa mexicana‘, cinnamon-infused water, baking powder and raisins were steamed inside corn husks, resulting in a delicately sweet dessert.
1. Soak corn husks for an hour – our instructor Chef Rossana had done this ahead of time.
2. Make cinnamon-infused water by boiling a few broken cinnamon sticks in 250ml water. The longer it stays in the water, the more cinnamon flavour, so this was also done ahead of time… 3. Make masa dough.
4. Mix creamed butter, sugar and baking powder.
5. Gradually add in masa dough, cinnamon-infused water, and a toothpick of the pink food colouring known as ‘rosa mexicana‘ until you have a smooth paste.
6. Put the pink paste along with a few raisins in the corn husk and wrap.
7. Layer a large pot with corn husks and add an inch or two of water. Bring it to a boil, take off the stove and pack the wrapped tamales into the pot. Put it back on the stove to steam for at least an hour.
8. A sweet tamal waiting to be unwrapped.
9. An unwrapped sweet tamale, ¡delicioso!
Chef Rossana is on Twitter at: Rossana Ascencio@MiMetate