When I hear the word “tamales” I am flooded with memories of the flavors of home. Once in a great while, I get brave and order a tamale from a restaurant menu. But I am invariably disappointed. They are never as good as my mom’s. They pale in comparison. Kind of like Chef Boyardee spaghetti from a can up against fresh pasta made by Mario Batali. Yes, they have the same name, but they are not in the same league.
I get hungry for tamales, but don’t often make them. Too much hassle. Too much time. Too much mess.
So, I came up with these little mini tart bites that are easy to throw together and take just minutes. If you have some frozen tamale filling stashed in your fridge from the last time you made a huge batch of tamales – fantastic! If not, follow the directions below for an easy facsimile.
Make these for your next patio party or barbecue. Who will argue with tamale goodness in two bites?
TAMALE TART BITES
2 1/4 cups masa harina
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
1 (12-ounce) can beef, chicken, or vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups favorite chile
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 (4-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In food processor pulse together the masa, baking powder, salt, and butter until small crumbs, about 10 pulses. Turn food processor on and slowly pour in broth until well blended.
Using one tablespoon of masa mixture, press into a small disc in palm of hand and then press in bottom and up sides of a lightly oiled mini muffin pan. Repeat this process for a total of 24 tart shells. Bake for 12–15 minutes, until shells are crispy and solid on bottoms and lightly browned on tops. Remove and let cool to room temperature.
Using a fine mesh strainer, press excess liquid from the chili, making chili more solid. Heat thickened chili in microwave for about 90 seconds, until heated through. Stir cheese into chili. Spoon one heaping teaspoon of thickened chili into tart shells. Place one olive slice on top. Serve warm.
Check out other easy tamale creations: