Up before the sun to check on the pork. It’s done! I take it out of the crockpot to begin cooling and will shred it when I get a chance.
As I waited on the coffee to brew, I get some cookie dough started. Not related to the tamales at all but it had to be done 😀
Christmas tamales are the first on the list to be made. They are a sweet dessert tamale filled with toasted nuts, dried sweetened cranberries and chocolate chips. Making them first means the chili scent from the other tamales won’t seep into the sweet ones.
Now it’s time to make the masa! I won’t go into detail for each tamale but this one is a bit specific so that you can see how it works. The process is the same for whatever flavor you are making. First, you whip your shortening/lard (in this case butter for the sweet ones) until light and fluffy. I mixed this butter with brown sugar to add sweetness but normally there will be no other additions.
Grab your masa flour and a huge bowl. If you have a stand mixer, now is the time to drag it out. Mix the masa flour with whatever spices you are using until it forms a moist paste. Then stir in your fluffy shortening. To test that it is fluffy enough, plop a spoonful into a glass of cold water. If it floats, it’s done!
I stirred in the cranberries and pecans and put it aside to rest while I got my pot ready. You can actually purchase a tamale steamer but I had no intention of buying one specifically for this project so I pulled my water bath canner back out and rigged it as a steamer. I placed two landscape bricks in the bottom, added two dimes (they will clink when boiling…if they ever stop making noise you know you need to add water, this prevents you having to open it up and check), and then put a layer of corn husks on the canning rack to help hold the tamales. Perfect!
By now I had some kiddoes to help and we went right to work. While some dried the soaked blue husks (blue and sweet things just go together in my head), others tore a few into little strips that we can use to tie up the tamales. Little dough balls of masa were placed on the husks, spread out, chocolate chips were tucked inside, and then the whole thing rolled up and tied into neat little packages. As they were done, we simply plopped them into the canner rack until it was filled.
This batch ended up making 36 sweet tamales. They were tucked into the pot and I placed a towel underneath the lid to prevent condensation then they were allowed to steam for 2 hours.
Next up…green chili cheese tamales!