Mexican Chocolate Tamales with a Kick; Yummy Fun for the Whole Family
The holidays have come and gone and you’re wondering what to do with your leftover chocolate chips you didn’t use for baking and corn husks from your tamales?
These chocolate tamales piqued our interest because of the use of Mexican chocolate and the idea of kicking it up with some heat. Your young children, or Tweens, will love to get their hands nice and gooey with the chocolate masa. It’s a great way to pull your kids away from the video games or television and have some fun family time in the kitchen.
We served the chocolate tamales as a dessert, accompanied with caramel and chocolate dipping sauces. They’re also delicious paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The following recipe was adapted from this well-known recipe by Chef Rick Bayless.
1-8 oz. package dried corn husks
10 oz Mexican chocolate, pulverized
1 pkg. Semi-sweet chocolate chips
10 oz. unsalted butter, cubed & softened
1/3 C granulated white sugar
½ tsp Cayenne pepper (More if you want a spicier kick.)
1 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking powder
2 lbs freshly prepared corn masa
1 Cup reduced fat milk
Now a note on the size of your tamales:
We went with a heaping tablespoon of chocolate masa per tamal. This allowed us to make 50 small dessert-sized tamales.
Aprons! You’ll never forget the experience of making tamales with your family, especially if this is your children’s first time. It can get messy so steel yourself now: your little ones will get masa on their clothing…possibly in their hair…and all over your counter/floor. Instead of spazing out, incorporate the aprons/masa/mess into your tamale memories.
One to two hours before you’re ready to make tamales, you’ll need to prepare the hojas (corn husks) by submerging them in really hot water. I did this by placing my hojas in a big tub. I then pour the hot water over the husks. You can keep them submerged by weighing them down, i.e. place a heavy pan on top. The hot water will help make the husks more flexible, which is essential for easy tamale making.
Preparing the batter: You’re masa is halfway there if you purchased it already prepared. Using the base of your knife, chop your chocolate into smaller pieces that your food processor can handle. Once your chocolate is chopped, pulverize it in a food processor.
Place the chocolate in a medium sauce pot over medium-low heat, then add the softened butter, sugar, baking powder, cayenne pepper, and salt. We also added a few chocolate batons to the mix, but you can add some semi-sweet chocolate chips. Using a whisk/ spatula, mix the ingredients together. (Please note that you are not cooking it. You merely want to melt the chocolate so that your tamales are not grainy. This process should take a few minutes.) Once combined, take it off the heat.
Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can start slowly adding the chocolate to your corn masa. Grab a big bowl and mix as you go with a silicone spatula so the chocolate and corn are well incorporated.
If your masa looks or feels too dry, simply add in a little of your reserved milk until you reach the right consistency. It will be sticky, but it should hold its shape somewhat.
You’ll end up with a big batch of chocolate masa. Since your corn husks are still softening, place your masa in the fridge, covered, for an hour, or until your tweens are motivated enough to roll up their sleeves and start filling and folding.
Once your corn husks are pliable and your masa has been chilled you can start making tamales. Select the husks you’re going to use. (You’ll be selecting husks based on how big or small you want your tamales. I found that larger husks could be ripped into two pieces to make the smaller tamales. Don’t throw any away because you might be able to use some of the scraps to tie up the ends.) Working in batches of a dozen, pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel.
Have your children help you scoop the chocolate masa and place it in the middle of a corn husks. At this step we added little bits of semi-sweet chocolate by gently pressing it into the masa. (The tamale will absorb some of the chocolate so don’t expect a molten center. You can try it with frozen berries or candied peels. Just remember that you’ll be steaming your tamales, so if you decide to place something inside the masa, make sure it can stand up to the steaming or be absorbed into the masa without being a mushy mess.) Gently roll the husk closed and twist the ends. Using a long, thin strip of corn husk tie both ends of the tamale. This is the bulk of your work, so settle in on chairs with your kids and enjoy. After each dozen place them in the fridge. This will help them keep their shape before steaming. At this stage you can also freeze some for later.
Steaming your tamales will take about 45 minutes, plus an additional 20 minutes to cool. The tamales will firm up again once they begin to cool. Place in a cute serving dish and serve with chocolate or caramel dipping sauces. As stated above, you can also serve it with a scoop of ice cream, but you can also partially open the husk to expose the tamale and dust it with powdered sugar.
As a mother of twin tweens in 2011 and an active Girl Scout Troop leader, Cristy realized there was a need to develop bilingual digital content and foster a community facing the challenges of raising kids after first grade. That year she founded and remains co-Publisher of Los Tweens & Teens, to support multicultural parents and mentors with content related to raising Gen Z- tweens & teens ages 7-18. Through the Los Tweens & Teens LIVE events such as Teens & Me – the growing team aims to provide our community with essential resources from chats with therapists to battle anxiety and bullying, to understanding social media and technology.
A New Jersey native of Cuban decent, Cristy is a board member of Amigos For Kids – a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing child abuse in the South Florida community. She is a teenage cancer survivor and speaks nationally at conferences and volunteers with cancer-awareness organizations such as St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of South Florida.