Have you noticed the common ingredient in this recipe and the last recipe? While the internet is brimming with pumpkin recipes this month, here in this little corner of the web you find – corn! The previous was a traditional Bay Island Corn Custard, which was hands-down amazing! And now, here are authentic Honduran — Sweet Corn Tamales!
Although commercially-grown corn is available throughout the year here, now is when home-grown corn is most abundant. On just about every street corner and vegetable stand, you’ll find street vendors selling corn. Fresh corn, roasted corn, and sweet corn tamales! Corn is a staple in traditional Honduran cooking, and the tradition comes from Hondurans’ Mayan-Lencan ancestors. The Mayans believed corn to be sacred and that it was a gift from their gods. If you’ve ever tasted Honduran corn, you know why they thought that way!
Better known as “Tamalitos,” sweet corn tamales are definitely a favorite Honduran street food. They are outranked only by the famous Baleada because to make good “Tamalitos” you need young, soft, fresh corn which isn’t always available.
By the way, speaking of Baleadas! Take a look at this Honduran news piece. In it, an article features a group of 70 cooks who gathered to make the world’s largest baleada! With a homemade flour tortilla measuring 18 feet in diameter, together with Honduran Refried Beans, the finished product weighed over 600 pounds and feed over 2,000 people! The enormous Baleada was staged to promote Honduran gastronomy and to enter the Guinness Book of World Records. I wonder if anyone else will ever compete for the record? 😉
Prepare Sweet Corn Tamales
Preparing Sweet Corn Tamales is much easier than you think. Begin by peeling off the husks and removing the silk. While peeling the husks take care to keep their full width intact. Wash the husks and set aside for later.
Next, cut the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife and put them in a bowl. To clean the kernels, don’t wash them directly with water but rather wet your hands and run your wet hands through the kernels. This method of cleaning will keep the kernels somewhat dry while any dirt and remaining silk will cling to your hands. Rinse your hands and repeat as many time as needed until the corn is clean.
After the corn is clean, put them in a food processor like this one and blend until smooth.
Then prepare the mixture by adding sugar, melted butter, and salt. Sometimes, you may need to add a bit of milk if the corn you’re using is not moist enough. But if you are using young, fresh corn, they’ll produce enough liquid on their own and there will be no need to add milk.
How to Assemble Sweet Corn Tamales
Using one of the reserved corn husks, place a half-cup of the mixture into the center and upper half of the husk. Wrap the husk over the mixture, making sure the seamed side faces you. Then fold the lower half away from you and up to seal the bottom. Once you’ve folded the bottom, stand upright in the pot you’ll use to cook them in. Some people use a second husk for the top and repeat the folding technique. This would completely seal the mixture inside and is good if you plan on sharing them or taking them out of the house. But if you’re making these for your household and plan to eat them at home, one husk is quicker and works fine. When placing them in the pot, use the leftover cobs to help keep them standing upright so the mixture doesn’t spill out.
How to Cook Sweet Corn Tamales
After you have them all in the pot, fill any remaining space with the left-over cobs to keep them from tipping over while cooking. Then, fill the pot to about half-way with very warm water, taking care not to let any water get into the tamales. Cover the tamales with a few husks to help trap steam and speed cooking time. Finally, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook over low heat for 45 minutes.
Watch Sweet Corn Tamales Recipe Video!
And that’s all there is to Honduran Sweet Corn Tamales — Tamalitos!
Sweet Corn Tamales - "Tamalitos"
Authentic Honduran Sweet Corn Tamales
- 4 Cups Corn Kernels From fresh young corn.
- 3/4 Cup Sugar
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- 1/4 Cup Butter Melted
Peel and remove silk from 8-10 fresh cobs of young corn.
Preserve husks in wide pieces to use later.
Cut kernels from the cob and place in a bowl. (Reserve a few of the cleaned cobs for later.)
Clean the kernels by wetting your hands and running them through the kernels. Any unwanted thrash and silk will stick to your wet hands. Rinse your hands and repeat until corn is clean. Do not wash the kernels directly with water.
Place four cups of kernels in a food processor and blend until smooth.
In a mixing bowl, add sugar, melted butter, and salt.
Use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to scoop the mixture.
Place 1/2 cup of the mixture in the center and the upper half of a clean husk.
Wrap the sides of the husk over the mixture.
Position the wrap so that the edges of the wrapped husk is facing you. Then, take the bottom half and fold it away from you and up to seal the bottom.
Stand the wrapped tamale upright in the pot that you'll use to cook them in.
Use the reserved cobs to keep the tamales upright in the pot while you make tamales from the remaining mixture.
Once all tamales are in the pot, place a few husks over the top of all of the tamales. This will trap the steam during cooking.
Fill the pot half-way with very warm water. Taking care that the water does not cover the top of the tamales.
Cook over low heat for 45 minutes until tamales are cooked through.
Top with Honduran white butter or sour cream and enjoy!
When peeling the corn, take care to preserve the husk in wide pieces. Larger husks are easier to wrap.
Make sure the water you add to the pot is already warm or hot. The tamales are cooked over low heat, so if you start with cold water, they'll take longer to cook.