Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pumpkin Dessert Tamales

I went back and forth a lot with this one, trying to decide if I should make these sweet or savory.  But after the little overdose of cumin in the pumpkin hummus, I decided to sweeten them up.  I could also keep them in the freezer for tea snacks at a later date, or even breakfast.

For the most part, I followed my apple tamale recipe and just made a few substitutions for the new flavors.  Pumpkins have a lot of water in them, so I reduced the amount of apple juice.  As an experiment, I decided to use cream cheese instead of butter.  The apple recipe only replaces half of the butter with cream cheese.  I'm not trying to make a low-fat tamale, but I don't see the need for half a stick of butter when the pumpkin provides a substitute texture.  Anyway, I had half a brick left over from the danishes, and those things don't keep.

Before and after:
2-1/2 C pumpkin + 1/2 C roasted seeds
I'm reducing the difficulty rating for these because I realized that they are basically cookie dough minus the egg and the only hard part is wrapping them.  I'm guessing the active work time to be less than 45 minutes, with an hour before for soaking the husks and the hour of steaming.  I will definitely make these again during the holiday season, if for no other reason than there's plenty of pumpkin left.  I roasted up two in case the yield was low, and now have over a pint of purée in the freezer, plus three more pumpkins waiting their turn.

20-24 corn husks
*1/2 C (half a brick) cream cheese
1/2 C brown sugar
*1/4 tsp nutmeg
*1 tsp cinnamon
*1/8 tsp cloves
*1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp baking powder
dash salt
2 C masa harina flour
1 15oz can pumpkin purée (not pie mix) or 2 C homemade purée
1/2 C apple juice, or as needed
1/2 C raisins
*1/2 C chopped walnuts

1.  An hour before starting, place husks in a deep pan.  Pour boiling water over them and let sit to soften.

2.  In stand mixer, beat cream cheese with paddle until fully creamed.  Add brown sugar, baking powder, and spices and beat until combined, about a minute.  Scrape sides and bottom and beat again until fluffy.

3.  Add 1 C masa flour and beat until incorporated.  Add half of the pumpkin and beat until smooth.  Repeat.  If batter is too thick to shape easily, add apple juice a tablespoon at a time until the consistency is like a soft sugar cookie dough.  Refrigerate 10 minutes to allow the moisture to distribute evenly.

4.  Set up a steamer pot with 2" of water.  My setup is a 2-gallon stock pot with a strainer that happens to fit the rim perfectly.  Any kind of drop-in steamer insert will work, but it should be big enough to hold 18-24 tamales.  If you have to steam them in batches, you'll be there all day.  You don't actually have to turn on the heat until you're down to the last 4 or so, but remember to get the water simmering before you're done wrapping.

5.  For the filling, stir together raisins and walnuts.

6.  Lay down a clean kitchen towel on your work surface.  Get out a corn husk and lay it flat.  Place about 3 Tb of batter in the middle of the upper half and spread it out slightly.  Spoon on about 1-1/2 tablespoons of filling.  Fold in the sides, fold up the bottom, and if you don't trust it to stay there, wrap it with a strip of corn husk.  Place in your steamer basket and move on to the next one.

7.  When all are wrapped, place basket over now-simmering water.  Cover tightly and steam for 1 hour.  Check the water at least once and add more if necessary.  After the hour, remove basket from heat and let tamales sit for about 10 minutes before serving, to firm up.  Leftovers are easy to freeze and microwave later.
Makes 18 to 24

Difficulty rating :-0

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