Last year we loved introducing our East Coast family to our California tradition of tamales for Christmas. Tamales are a traditional Latin American dish, made from corn masa and a flavored filling, all wrapped around a corn husk shaped into a little packet. Our family is crazy for them, and during the Christmas season it’s not unusual to see little hands grabbing for tamales just as quickly as we can churn them out.
This year, we decided to do it again – but we made it easier on ourselves with an easy-to-use tamale kit, a gift from Melissa’s.
This kit is pretty cool – Inside, you have 12 corn husks, already soaked and bend-able, and a masa mix to which you just add water. Within seconds you have a perfect masa paste to spread on your corn husks. After that you just add your favorite fillings, wrap the whole thing up, and steam.
For dinner, we started with a simple shredded beef filling. We simmered 2 pounds of top round steak for three hours in beef broth, until it was falling-apart tender. Then we shredded it and simmered it for another hour with tomato sauce, chili powder, adobo powder, salt and pepper. This made enough filling for approximately two dozen tamales – just enough to feed our crowd of nine for one dinner.
After we polished off the beef tamales, we decided to follow a recipe we found inside the Melissa’s kit for cherry/chocolate dessert tamales. Do you think we had trouble recruiting volunteers to help with this one? Not a chance. Sure, we sacrificed a few extra chocolate chips but it all worked out well in the end.
These choco-cherry tamales are extremely tasty and they will probably be the perfect treat for anyone who is tired of overly sweet Christmas desserts. Plus, they’re chocolate – and no kid we know has ever had a problem with that.
From our family to yours, we wish you a wonderful Christmas. The next post you’ll see will be a round-up of our first annual Christmas Eve stromboli competition. Rumor has it that some family members are taking this so seriously there are going to be actual trophies involved. Will the best stromboli win, or will some desperate stromboli chef attempt to stuff the ballot box? Stay tuned.