CHOCOLATE-DRIED CHERRY TAMALES WITH SAMBUCA-MILK CHOCOLATE SAUCE
For the dried cherry salsa:
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1 tablespoon kirsch
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 pint raspberries
- 2 tablespoons sugar
For the sambuca-milk chocolate sauce:
- 12 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
- 6 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
- 3 tablespoons Sambuca
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup heavy cream
For the chocolate-dried cherry tamale filling:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 10 1/2 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 5 large eggs
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup dried cherries, soaked in tequila for 30 minutes, drained
- and roughly chopped
- 10 corn husks, soaked in Hibiscus water for 1 hour
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
To prepare the salsa, combine the cherries and kirsch in a small mixing bowl. Cover the cherries with hot water and let soak for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, place the pecans on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for about 8 minutes. (Keep the oven on for baking the cake filling.) Let cool, chop finely, and set aside. Drain the rehydrated cherries, chop finely, and transfer to a clean bowl. Puree the raspberries with the sugar in a blender. Pass through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl with the cherries. Add the pecans and stir thoroughly to combine. Keep chilled in the refrigerator.
To prepare sambuca-milk chocolate sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in the top of a double boiler set over gently simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate has melted and all the ingredients are completely blended. When the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat and let cool completely. Warm slightly before serving.
To prepare chocolate-dried cherry tamale filling, place a round of parchment (or waxed) paper in the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Butter and flour the pan and paper. To prepare the filling, place the cream in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and remove from the heat. Add both the chopped chocolates and stir to blend. Cover the pan and allow the chocolate to melt, about 5 minutes. Stir again to blend completely and set aside. Place the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and set over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Whisk the mixture until warm to the touch, about 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Beat the mixture with an electric mixer at high speed until tripled in volume, 7 to 10 minutes.
Gently whisk one-quarter of the egg mixture into the chocolate and incorporate completely; gently fold in the rest, taking care to deflate the egg mixture as little as possible. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared cake pan and place inside a slightly larger pan or bain-marie. Pour enough boiling water into the larger pan so that it comes halfway up the side of the 9-inch cake pan. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick or skewer comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let the pan sit in the water for 30 minutes. When cool, invert the cake onto a platter and remove the parchment paper. Crumble the cake into a mixing bowl, add the cherries soaked in tequila, and combine thoroughly. Divide the mixture into 8 even portions and roll each into a ball.
Drain the corn husks and pat dry. Tear 16 strips (about 1/8 inch wide) from 2 of the husks and set aside for tying the tamales. Lay out the remaining 8 corn husks on a flat work surface. Place 1 portion of the filling mixture on each husk. Evenly flatten out the filling, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of exposed corn husk at each end and 3/4 inch at each side. Bring the sides of the corn husk together, folding the filling; tuck one side of the husk under the other and roll up the tamale so that the filling is completely enclosed inside the husk. Twist each end and tie with the reserved strips of corn husk. Wrap the tamale tightly with plastic wrap. Repeat for the remaining tamales.
Fill the bottom of a steamer or saucepan fitted with a strainer or vegetable basket with 2 to 3 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil and place the tamales in the steamer. Cover tightly with a lid or foil (it is important that little or no steam escapes while cooking). Steam the tamales for about 10 minutes over lightly boiling water until they are warmed through.
To finish the dish, ladle about 1/4 cup of the sauce onto serving plates. Remove the plastic wrap from the tamales and, with a knife, slice open the top of the wrappers from end to end. Gently push the ends together, as for a baked potato, and place the tamales on top of the sauce. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the salsa over each tamale.
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