Mexican dinner, Italian dessert

Since I had to work during the day on Christmas Eve, tamales were the perfect thing to prepare the day before and easily heat up for us to entertain.  I'd already made the green chili pork filling several days in advance, and a simple masa dough is a cinch to whip up.  Tamales were also the perfect complement to the beef caldio Carson's family always traditionally made for Christmas Eve.  (Though I don't have the recipe he used, here is one I thought looked good.. though he scoffed at the idea of adding coffee to the stew!)

And what better to accompany a Mexican dinner than an Italian dessert?  Sure, I could've stayed with the theme and made tres leches cake or flan... but, truthfully, I've been craving tiramisu like nobody's business.  And tiramisu just so happens to be one of those make-ahead dishes that only gets better after a day.

Some recipes don't say so, but I think it's always a good idea to soak your corn husks for at least a couple hours.  I mean, I'm no Mexican grandma, but I've made a few tamales in my day and you definitely want that husk to stay moist.  Next, set up your area with your filling, husks, and bowl of masa dough...

Spread the masa evenly across the husk, top with filling and whatever else (here, I used the green chili pork and then cotija cheese).  Some husks will be bigger than others so obviously the tamales follow suit.  This is a particularly small one.  Next, fold up the bottom and roll it up like a burrito!  (Well, an open-ended burrito.  No need to seal off the top).

Tear a husk into thin strips to create "ties" to tie off each tamal.  Then stack them (open side up, of course) in a large tamale steamer.  I'd done this before with a regular stock pot too, though I couldn't remember how.  A friend suggested perhaps balling up foil on the bottom of the pot??  Basically, you want boiling water below the tamales so they steam, but you don't want them sitting in it.  So if you could configure a system to keep them lifted, then you're good to go.  I got a cheap tamale steamer from the local Fiesta. :)

Now, onto the tiramisu!  I looked over many different recipes and some call for a combination of rum and espresso.  But I already had an almost-untouched bottle of Kahlua and I was going to use it, dammit.  So I went with a recipe calling for coffee liqueur.

Classic Tiramisu
supposedly makes 12 servings, but I thought it made more like...20

6 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 1/4 cups marscapone
1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup coffee flavored liqueur
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
2 12 oz packages lady fingers (I had leftovers though)
semi-sweet chocolate square, for garnish (optional)

1. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a double boiler, over boiling water.  Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and whip yolks until thick and lemon-colored.

2. Add marscapone to whipped yolks.  Beat until combined.  In a separate bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks.  Gently fold into yolk mixture and set aside.

3. Line the bottom and side of a large (13x9 inch) baking dish with the lady fingers.  (Recipe says to split them in half but I used whole Alessi brand ladyfingers and still had leftovers!  I think one package, rather than two, would have sufficed). Brush the ladyfingers with Kahlua and spoon half of the cream filling over them.  Repeat ladfingers, Kahlua, and cream.  Garnish with cocoa and chocolate curls.  Refrigerate for at least several hours or overnight.

Voila!  Christmas Eve dinner was done the day before.  As for the day itself, I woke to a beautiful Christmas Eve bouquet Carson got from the Wet Whistle, designed by D. Sweetpeas!

That night, we had Papa Dickey and the Dickey brothers over for a gift exchange, tamales, and tiramisu!