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Tamale Tarts

James Carrier
Yield Makes 8 servings


  • Dough:
  • 1 2/3 cups dehydrated masa flour (corn tortilla flour)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (14 3/4 oz.) cream-style corn
  • 2/3 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies
  • 1/3 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Spinach filling:
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion (8 oz.), peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper (8 oz.), rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 8 ounces Roma tomatoes, rinsed and chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend or cheddar cheese
  • Pumpkin-seed salsa

Nutrition Information

  • calories 392
  • caloriesfromfat 46 %
  • protein 12 g
  • fat 20 g
  • satfat 6.3 g
  • carbohydrate 47 g
  • fiber 5 g
  • sodium 635 mg
  • cholesterol 27 mg

How to Make It

  1. For dough: In a bowl, mix masa flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add cream-style corn, corn kernels, chilies, white onion, and oil; mix until blended.

  2. For spinach filling: In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, stir cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and oregano in oil until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; stir occasionally until onion is limp, about 3 minutes. Press liquid out of spinach. Add spinach and tomatoes to pan and stir often until liquid has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Add salt to taste.

  3. Lightly coat insides of eight ramekins or custard dishes (3/4 to 1 cup each) with cooking oil spray (to wrap tarts in cornhusks, see "Party Tarts," below.) Spoon an eighth of the dough (a scant 1/2 cup) into each dish. With the back of a spoon, spread dough over bottom and partially up sides of dish; it should be about 1/4 inch thick. Evenly layer an eighth of each of the pepper cheese, spinach filling, and Mexican cheese blend over dough. Arrange dishes on a 10- by 15-inch baking pan. Cover pan with foil.

  4. Bake in a 350° oven until tarts are hot in the center, about 30 minutes. Serve with salsa.

  5. Party Tarts: You can bake the savory treats directly in ramekins or dress them up in husks. You'll need about 35 dried cornhusks (each 4 in. wide; 2 1/2 oz. total; available at Mexican markets or well-stocked supermarkets). Make dough and filling for tamale tarts (through step 2 above), then prepare the husks.

  6. Separate husks; discard silks. Soak husks in hot water until pliable, about 20 minutes. Rinse well and drain. Tear with grain into sections 2 to 3 inches wide at large end.

  7. Overlap husk pieces to line eight baking dishes (about 4 in. wide), wide ends in bottom, narrow ends over sides.

  8. Fill each with dough; spread and layer (step 3 above).

  9. Leave open, or tie into packets: Tear more husks, with the grain, into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-wide strips (if strips are shorter than 8 inches, tie ends of two short strips together). Gather husks over filling in each dish; tie with a strip.

  10. Set open-faced tarts or packets in a baking pan, cover, and bake (steps 3 and 4 of above recipe).