Monday, January 19, 2015

Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes...Olé!


This recipe was originally shared on my sorely neglected teaching blog, Ribbons, Recipes and Rhymes.  I think it is time to move it to the food blog, so here goes. If you are a fan of Mexican food and you love tomatoes, cilantro and avocado, this recipe is for you.  It is an appetizer, but honestly, I can make a meal out of it.  There are really three components to this recipe...sounds complicated, but it isn't and I am going to show you step by step how to make it.  The three parts are the tamale cakes, which are sweet little cakes made with masa, butter and corn.  Then, there are the toppings.  You can put whatever suits your fancy and so can your guests, but these are the toppings I usually put out for my guests to choose from: tomatoes, corn, cilantro, avocado, green onion, jalepeno, and chipotle peppers.  Finally, there is a spicy chipotle ranch dressing to drizzle over the whole shebang!  Yum!  Let's get started!

In our Leader in Me training, we were taught to begin with the end in mind, so that is exactly what we are going to do here.  We are going to start with the chipotle ranch dressing.  Why, you ask?  Because we want the flavors in that ranch dressing to have time to "marry", so we are going to make it first, put it in the refrigerator and give all those spicy flavors time to do their thing.  So, let's get going.
Here is what you will need for the dressing:  1 packet dry buttermilk ranch dressing mix, 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 cup buttermilk and 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

 Make the dressing according to the ranch dressing package instructions.  Here is a little hint...mix the mayonnaise and the powdered ranch dressing together first with a whisk.  Then add the buttermilk a little bit at a time.  This keeps your dressing smooth and without giant lumps of mayonnaise.


After you get the dressing mixed up, you are going to add the chipotle peppers...carefully!  You are not going to need the whole can of peppers, unless you have a mouth made of asbestos.  What I usually do is remove all of the whole peppers from the can.  You will be left with sauce with little bits of broken peppers.  I pour this out on my cutting board and cut it up to make sure there aren't any too large hunks of pepper.  Once you get that chopped up with your knife, add it to the dressing, mixing well.  Now taste the dressing and see if you want more heat.  If you do, you can chop up one of those whole peppers you set aside earlier.  The idea is to add a little at a time until you get it as spicy as you want without sending your guests to the emergency room.  Chop and save the remaining chipotle peppers to use as a topping on the tamale cakes.


Put your dressing in the refrigerator and let's go on to the tamale cakes.  Here is what you are going to need for those:
2 sticks butter
3 cups frozen whole kernel corn, divided ( I like white, but yellow works fine, too)
1/4 t. salt
4 T. all purpose flour
6 T. sugar
1 cup masa

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

I have done this many ways, with the corn frozen, with the corn thawed, with the butter cold, with the butter at room temperature and every combination of these.  What works best?   I think the best combination is thawed corn and room temperature butter.  If you use cold butter, it doesn't get smooth and if you use room temperature butter and frozen corn, the butter seizes up and gets hard again.  So, room temperature butter and thawed corn it is.  Put 2 cups of the corn and the 2 sticks of butter in your food processor and process until smooth.  Next, add the sugar, salt, flour and masa and process  again just until the dough forms a ball.

Now, take the dough out of the food processor, put it in a bowl and stir in the remaining corn.
Using a small ice cream scoop, place balls of dough 2 inches apart on the parchment lined cookie sheets.

Place another sheet of parchment on top of the balls of dough.  Take a glass and flatten each ball till it is about 1/4 inch thick.

When all the balls of dough have been flattened, remove the top sheet of parchment and place the cookie sheets in the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Here is what the tamale cakes will look like when they finish cooking.

Next we are ready for the fun part...the toppings.    I put a bowl of each topping on the table and guests can choose which ones they want on their tamale cake. Here are the toppings I like: chopped green onions, cilantro, tomatoes, jalapeno, avocado, corn (you probably have some left over from making the tamale cakes) and chipotle peppers.  After your guests put the toppings of their choice on their cakes they can drizzle the whole thing with some of the chipotle ranch dressing or, if they prefer something milder, plain ranch dressing or sour cream.

Here is what the finished appetizer looks like.  They are so yummy!  Try them and let me know what you think! ¡Buen provecho!
Three Friends and a Fork
Three Friends and a Fork

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