A sweet tamale might seem a little bit odd, but these strawberry tamales are going to change some hearts and minds! They're light, sweet, fruity and perfect for breakfast or dessert.
This recipe for strawberry tamales is from Dora Stone's cookbook Vegan Tamales Unwrapped. The book is packed with recipes for both sweet and savory tamales, and she does a really great job of making the tamale-making process accessible.
Tamales aren't my typical kind of from-scratch food to make. They are not quick, but they're easier to make than you'd think. The hardest part is finding the ingredients. If your local grocery store doesn't carry masa harina (used to make the tamale dough) or corn husks (the outer wrappers), you can find both online. I was able to find masa harina at my local grocery store, but the employee I asked about corn husks thought that I was just over-explaining corn tortillas.
The book walks you through how to make the dough, how to wrap your tamales, and how to steam them correctly including helpful step-by-step photos for all parts of the process. Once you have the technique down, you're ready to wrap!
This book review is part of the Vegan Tamales Unwrapped book tour. If you want to see more recipes from the book, check out:
- Red Chile Jackfruit Tamales at Bake and Destroy
- Potato Adobo Tamales at Go Dairy Free
- Chocolate Tamales at Chic Vegan
All of the tamales in this book look and sound amazing, and now that I have a guide to making the perfect dough, wrapping like a pro, and steaming properly, I am totally going to make tamales part of my family's food routine!
Making Tamales In Advance
Making tamales is time-consuming, so I did a little research to see whether I could do any of the steps in advance. It turns out that you can make the dough up to two days before you plan to cook, and you can keep uncooked tamales for up to two days in the fridge.
Our Everyday Life has instructions for storing both pre-made dough and uncooked tamales, and I used her directions to store my strawberry tamale dough. I make it the night before to cut some time off of my day-of cooking needs. It worked like a charm!
Notes from My Kitchen
I made the dough for these strawberry tamales the night before and refrigerated it in a glass container with an air-tight lid, like Our Everyday Life suggested, and re-beat it the next day. It had thickened up considerably in the fridge, which she said would happen.
I only made a half recipe, because I didn't think my family would be able to eat two dozen tamales before they went bad (that was before I tasted one!). For a half recipe, it took me 1/2 cup of water to get the dough nice and soft again. I'd add water by the 1/4 cup, beating with your electric hand mixer in between each addition, until you get the consistency you want. You want the dough to be spreadable but not pourable.
Honestly, I'm not sure I saved much day-of cooking time by making the dough ahead, since you have plenty of time to make the dough while the corn husks are soaking. Next time, I'm going to assemble the tamales the night before, so all I have to do on the day is steam them. That would have been a real time-saver!
The dough for these tamales is insanely delicious, even before steaming. My three-year-old son was hanging out while I made it, and he licked the beaters AND the bowl. Then asked for more raw dough to eat. I'm definitely going to be making these again soon!
Strawberry Tamales from Vegan Tamales Unwrapped
- Soak the corn husks in hot water, in a large pot or in your kitchen sink. Place a plate over them to weigh them down so they are completely submerged. Let them soak for at least an hour.
- Blend the 2 cups of almond milk and 1 cup of the strawberries until smooth.
- To make the dough: beat the butter and sugar, on medium-high speed, with an electric mixer, until the butter has doubled in size and is nice and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the baking powder and salt, and beat for 1 minute to incorporate into the butter.
- Add half of the masa harina then add the strawberry almond milk. After it is completely incorporated, add the other half of the masa harina and the water. Add the remaining cup of chopped strawberries, and beat at low speed, until thoroughly mixed. It should have the consistency of a thick cake batter. If necessary add more water until you reach that consistency.
- For lighter and fluffier tamales, let the dough rest for an hour in the refrigerator. Remove the dough from the fridge and rebeat it, adding enough liquid to get it to the consistency it had before.
- Remove the corn husks from the water and set on paper towels. Reserve the largest husks to wrap the tamales and the small ones to line the steamer.
- To set up your steamer, fill the bottom with water making sure the water is not touching the steamer rack. Line the rack and sides of the steamer pot with corn husks. Set aside.
- To wrap the tamales, pull 24 pencil thin strips off of the corn husks and set aside. Take a husk and dry off the excess water on it with a paper towel. Place the husk in your hand with the tapered side away from you and the smooth side up. Using a spoon, spread 2-3 tbsp. of the dough (¼ inch thick) onto the corn husk, forming a 3 - 4 inch square. Leave a border of at least 3/4 inch on each side of the square.
- Place 1 tbsp. of strawberry jam in the center of the dough. Bring the two long sides of the corn husk together, this will cause the masa to surround the jam, and roll them in the same direction around the tamal. (If the husk is too small, fold one of the long sides towards the center, and then fold the other long side on top.) Fold down the empty tapered section of the corn husk, forming a closed bottom. This will leave the top of the tamal open. Tie with a corn husk strip to secure the bottom of the tamal.
- Place the tamal in the steamer vertically leaning against the side of the steamer, with the open end on top. Repeat this process until you run out of dough and all the tamales are in the steamer. Cover them with a layer of corn husks. If the steamer is not full, fill the empty spaces with more corn husks. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and cook for 40 minutes. Check the tamales, when they separate easily from the corn husk it means they are done. If they are not done, steam for 10 more minutes and check again.
- Remove steamer from the heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and let cool for at least an hour. Don’t be alarmed if the tamales seem really soft. As they cool, they will firm up.