Communal Beat

Tamales de Chocolate

chocolate tamale

Beautiful tamale with melted chocolate and roasted nuts

Tamales de Chocolate

Hot tamales! Possibly the perfect food-to-go! A warm little bundle of corny goodness! Sometimes savory, sometimes sweet but always delicious and always gluten free! For hundreds if not thousands of years the people of Mesoamerica have carried tamales with them as a portable food. Now, you can too!

I have been making tamales for about eight years and have come to see their delicious versatility. I sold them at the Comox Valley Farmers Market and made them in my restaurant, The Purple Onion Deli. When we first started selling them at the market we spent a lot of time trying to describe them to the many who had heard the word but never seen the thing. I used to describe them as a “Mexican corn dumpling”! There were many converted to the tamale cause witnessed by the numerous times that we couldn’t seem to make enough.

Tamales are a time consuming enterprise but a good excuse to gather with a few friends or to bring the family together for some kitchen fun.

This chocolate tamale recipe is for a tamale that I never sold at the market… why I’m not too sure, as it would have been very popular. I imagine this tamale served with a nice raspberry compote and even a scoop of real vanilla ice cream.

Tamales de Chocolate

You’ll need an assortment of bowls, a saucepan, a spatula or large spoon a whisk , a small pack of clean corn husks and Masa Harina, Masa Harina is a special corn flour made from hominy. Cornhusks and Masa Harina are available from “Fresh is Best Salsa and Company” in Vancouver.


2 Cups Masa Harina
tsp Baking Soda
tsp cinnamon
tsp salt
2 Tbs Cocao
¼ tsp vanilla
1/2 Cup Cream
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter
2/3 C brown Sugar
150 grams dark chocolate chips
150 grams pecans or walnuts


Soak the corn husks in warm water to soften for about 20 minutes

Lightly Roast the pecans or walnuts

In a bowl cream together the Butter, Vanilla and Brown Sugar

Mix the Cream and Milk

In another bowl mix together the Masa Harina, Baking Soda, Cinnamon, Cocao and Salt then slowly add the Cream and Milk to the Maseca mixture until it becomes a moist paste.

Add the above to the Creamed Butter/Sugar/Vanilla mixture and whisk until it becomes light and fluffy. The final mixture should hold together when formed into a ball but be light enough to feel a bit wet and stick to your fingers. If it seems too wet add a little Maseca or if too dry a bit more Milk

To form the tamales spoon about a ¼ Cup of the mixture evenly into the center of a softened cornhusk, leaving a ½ inch from the top, bottom and sides. Sprinkle a generous amount of chocolate chips and nuts along the length and in the center of the Mixture. Now, roll the two long sides towards each other folding one side over the other, being careful to fully enclose the mixture within the husk and to not spill the chocolate and nuts. Now, fold the narrow, pointed end of the husk up to about 1/3 of the tamales length. The tamale should be no more than one inch thick along its length so that it cooks evenly. You should leave a ½ inch of husk up from the top of the tamale to allow for expansion of the mixture. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easier than it sounds!

Now your tamales are ready for steaming. It’s best to cook them in a steam basket or a colander standing upright and propped by a cup or bowl so that they don’t tip over. They can be cooked on their sides if you don’t have a deep enough steamer. Bring a pot of water to a boil then place the basket into the pot making sure the tamales are not in the water but suspended above it so that they are steamed. I like to put a clean tea towel over top of the tamales so that water doesn’t drip into them from condensation. Check from time to time that the water doesn’t boil dry.

Check the tamales in one hour by opening one and seeing if it pulls clean away from the side. The tamales are ready when they pull clean away from the cornhusks leaving no residue. Be very careful when handling the cooked tamales as they are extremely hot!

Makes about 16 Chocolate Tamales

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