Have you ever tried a recipe that did not quite turn out the first time you tried it? Well, this is exactly what happened to me with this recipe for sweet corn tamales(uchepos). My Tia Minerva was nice enough to share here recipe with me a few years ago. And of course like many older, traditional Mexican recipes the measurements were in kilos and grams and in these massive quantities to feed a whole Mexican wedding party! Lol! After that, I kind of put this recipe on the back burner for two years. Recently, I was reminded of it with all the wonderful sweet corn we have been enjoying so far this summer. So, one day last week or so, I could not pass up the huge, fresh corn that was 5 for $1.00. Instead of the usual elote asado (grilled corn) or corn salsa that I typically would make, sweet corn tamales were on the drawing board once again.
The difference this time, was that I took my time and researched many, many…many recipes! Ha, ha, ha! The most imporatnt thing I found out, was that mexican corn is different from corn grown in the United States. The corn here has a higher water content, where the corn in Mexico is more mature and with less water. That was it!! Thanks to a great post I found on the Cooking Channel site, it explained this to me. All I had to do the first time, was to add a little binder, in the form of masa harina, rice flour or cornmeal. It was that simple. My first choice was to use masa harina. Makes sense to me, that what I use to prepare all my tamales. So I did not want to chance a second fail by using the rice flour or cornmeal. That’s for another time. For today’s blog post, I share with you, my version of Uchepos, a sweet corn tamal with coconut and cream cheese. And also a savory version with green chile and cheese! Take advantage of that fresh corn while you can. I am so grateful for my family sharing these wonderful recipes with me.
The savory version of uchepos above was filled with a strip of queso fresco, rajas(roasted poblano) and pickled jalapeño strips.
Both sweet and savory versions of uchepos above.
The sweet version above is filled with shredded coconut, fresh diced pineapple and a strip of cream cheese!
- 5 large ears of corn
- 1/2 cup of sugar or to taste
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 to 1 cup masa harina rice flour or cornmeal
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 8 ounce brick of cream cheese
- You wil also need
- Corn husk for tamales softened overnight
- Deli paper or foil paper optional (for wrapping tamales)
- Take your store bought corn husk and soak them in hot water overnight. Remove the husk from fresh corn and immediately immerse into warm water. Discard the silks. Remove all the kernals form ears of corn. Add to processor and process until fairly smooth and evenly blended. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy.
- To the corn, add the butter/sugar mixture, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Process just until incorporated. Add in the masa harina a little at a time and process in between. You want the corn masa to be firm and not runny. Taste for sugar after you process. Add the shredded coconut and pulse just to mix in.Transfer sweet corn masa to to a bowl, cover and chill until ready to use.
- Slice the cream cheese into 24 equal strips. Chill until ready to use. Drain the old water from store bought corn husk and refresh with more hot water.
- When ready, assemble tamales (upechos). Take a husk that is about 5 inches in diameter. Shake off excess water. Place a full two tablespoons of corn masa down the center (vertically). add a strip of cream cheese in the center of masa. Fold side closest to you in and over filling and pull in a little to tighten. Continue rolling tamal away from you as tight as you can without squeezing the filling out. If using the deli paper or foil, wrap the tamal securely, like a burrito.
- Place in steamer, previously filled with water. Add some of the fresh corn husk to the bottom of steamer. Instead of standing the tamales up, I like to lay and stack them across the bed of husk. Once filled, cover with more corn husk, cover pot and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue steaming for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Keep some hot water on the stove top and add to steamer as needed. Let tamales stand in covered pot for a good 30 minutes before serving. They will firm up as they cool. Yields 24 tamales. Garnish with sweetened condensed milk, crema or crumbled Mexican cheese.
Most important tip! Never let the pot run out of water!! Place a penny in the water before adding steamer and tamales. If it stops rattling (making noise), it need water!
Tips~ I chopped my unsweetened coconut in the mini chopper before adding it to the corn masa.
Tips~ You do not have to use the deli paper, but it really helps keep the shape of the tamal while steaming and prevents any leaking.
Tips~ I prefer to steam the tamales laying across and stacked. Because the masa is not as firm, when you steam them standing up, the masa tends to fall and the tamal shape is not as nice.
Tips~ Let the tamal cool slightly before testing the first one. It will firm up and come away from the husk alot easier when cooled.
Tips~ It is ideal to use the fresh corn husk to wrap the tamales, but I found that the fresh husk were too small and too tough, so I used a few to wrap, them used the remaining fresh husk to layer and steam the tamales. The picture above is one recipe for fresh corn dough split in half. One sweet and one savory.
Fresh Corn Green Chile and Cheese Tamales~Savory Uchepos
5 large ears of corn (about 4 full cups)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, manteca(lard) or shortening, at room temperature (I used manteca)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon granules
Salt to taste
3/4 to 1 cup masa harina, rice flour or cornmeal (I used masa harina)
4 roasted green chiles, anaheim, new mexico or poblanos, diced
6 ounces shredded cheese (I used white, sharp cheddar, muenster cheese works well too)
You wil also need
Corn husk for tamales, softened overnight
Deli paper or foil paper, optional (for wrapping tamales)
1. For the savory version of Uchepos, you will not add any sugar. After you process the corn as directed, add in the ingredients as listed and pulse to process until well incorporated. Taste for salt.
2. Follow instructions for filling and steaming. Garnish with your favorite salsa, crema or crumbled Mexican cheese.
Tips~ Always let your tamales cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I don’t have any experience with freezing this style of tamal…yet. Eat and enjoy while fresh!
Tips~ And for a heartier dinner you could serve your savory tamales in a bowl with some salsa verde, topped with shredded chicken and your favorite red salsa. garnish with avocado and cilantro.