On May 1, in honor of the start of the merry month of May, my extended family made sweet tamales. Several folks, after seeing this picture on social media, asked for the recipe, so here it is. Making tamales from scratch is an art, a labor of love, and a commitment. Plan at least 4 hours for this task (as well as a few minutes the day before to toss the dry corn husks in water), especially if you're a beginner.
1 bag of masa harina
1 bag of cane or coconut sugar
1 very large jar of coconut oil
1 package of ojas, or corn husks
salt and baking powder
1 bag chocolate chips
2 large containers of fresh strawberries
1 bag of dried strawberries
additional jams or jellies in jars
Prepare the ojas, or corn husks:
Soak overnight in water to soften
Remove from water one at a time and pull off any debris, corn silk, etc.
Gently pat dry with a clean towel and place to the side
Prepare the masa:
Prepare masa harina as directed on the side of the package (except triple the recipe). This means you will use 6 cups of flour, 4 cups of water, 3 teaspoons of baking powder. BUT: add one cup of sugar to the mix, and only use one teaspoon of salt instead of 3. Mix these ingredients together to make a dough, using clean hands, and making sure to break up any lumps. In a separate bowl, mash 2 cups of coconut oil with your hands so there are no lumps. Slowly add the doughy masa to the oil (NOT THE REVERSE), and mix the dough in so that the oil is consistent throughout. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the dried strawberries until they are powder, then add this powder to the masa, turning it pink.
Prepare the filling:
Slice one package of fresh strawberries into thin slices. Open a package of chocolate chips. Dig in the fridge to find half-used jars of jam and jelly- any flavor will do. All of it is delicious.
Prepare the "salsa":
Slice one package of fresh strawberries into a pot. Add 2 tablespoons of rose water, a little plain water, and another cup of sugar. Stirring occasionally, then later constantly, bring to a boil and reduce, reduce, reduce until it has a jam-like consistency. Set aside to cool.
Prepare the pot:
Use a steamer with a basket, or else turn a pie plate over and poke holes in the bottom to create a platform inside a regular pot. Make sure there is sufficient water at the bottom, but not so much that it will be touching the bottoms of the tamales.
NOW, make your tamales!
Make sure the corn husk is not too wet - pat dry with a towel is needed. Spread a tablespoon or more of masa on a corn husk, coating the inside. Then, lay several chocolate chips and some sliced strawberries inside. Feel free to get creative here, adding honey, jelly, jam, etc. Not too much! A teaspoon or so will do! Here is a great video about spreading the masa just right.
Then, roll the husk into a tight bundle and fold the bottom edge under to keep it closed. Stand tamales, open end up, in the pot and pack them in tightly. You will need to be able to cover the pot with a lid.
Cover the top of the pot with the lid, and layer one or two wet dish towels over that. Place pot on medium-high heat and bring water to a boil. Monitor closely- you may need to add a small amount of water after a while so the bottom of the pot doesn't burn. Tamales should steam for 45-min to 1 hour, depending on the size of the pot. When you lift the lid (don't do this too often) and see that the masa has fluffed up and is pulling away from the husk, then test to see if your tamales are done. They should have a bread-like consistency, neither goopy nor hard.
When you are ready to eat these tamales (AND YOU WILL WANT TO EAT SOME RIGHT AWAY OMG), unwrap them and spread a little bit of the strawberry-rose "salsa" on top of them.