At a fantastic out-of-the-way Mexican restaurant called El Metate in Gallup, New Mexico, the very sweet owner, Rebecca, taught me how to make proper Mexican tamales. To see her teaching me how to make these, watch the video here LINK. Tamales can be sweet, like these, or savoury. They are basically filled Mexican dumplings – I think they’re brilliant. The cornhusks they’re wrapped in are used throughout Mexico. If you buy corn in season it often comes in husks, but the dried husks I’m using here work a treat. You can pick them up online or at Whole Foods Market stores. Otherwise, things like greaseproof or wax paper will also do the trick.
Soak your cornhusks in a bowl of warm water or, if you’re using greaseproof paper, cut yourself 16 pieces roughly 12x20cm. In a separate bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, coconut and chopped pineapple. Add the lime zest and juice and pour in 200ml of water to bring everything together. Mix well, until you’ve got a thick spoonable paste.
Put a large pan of water on to boil – the pan needs to be big enough to fit a colander on top. Take a soaked cornhusk or piece of greaseproof paper and spoon a heaped tablespoon of your pineapple mixture into the middle of the husk or paper; if the husks are thin you might have to layer two on top of each other. Fold the sides in to cover the filling, then twist the ends and use string to tie them so they look like Christmas crackers.
Lay your prepared tamales in a large colander or steamer, making sure they’re all in one layer and not overlapping. Cover the top of the colander with tin foil and seal it nice and tightly. If you don’t have a colander large enough you can always steam the tamales in 2 batches. Pop the colander on top of your pan of boiling water and steam for about 20 to 25 minutes. About 5 minutes before they’re due to be ready, start making your chocolate sauce.
Gently bring the cream to the boil in a pan on a medium heat. As soon as it starts to boil, take the pan off the heat and stir in your chocolate pieces until they’re perfectly melted and combined. Add the cubes of butter and a pinch of salt and stir well until the butter is melted.
Open one of the tamales to check that it’s perfectly cooked – it should be solid and the wrapping should peel away from it easily. Take them off the heat and let them cool down slightly so they’re cool enough to handle but still warm and delicious. Lay them on a platter next to a jug of your warm chocolate sauce and let everyone get involved and unwrap their own.