Las Posadas is a special time of year for Latinos across the world. It’s a time to gather with friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, to share our love, faith and food. The word “posada” means “lodging,” and it’s signifies a time when Mary and Joseph were seeking shelter to give birth to Baby Jesus. The nine months of a pregnancy are interpreted as the nine days of Las Posadas. Today we celebrate these nine days with re-enactments with candles and songs that lead to prayer, and then a celebration with lots of food like pozole and tamales, sweets like buneols and pan dulce, and drinks like ponche or champurrado, a drink typically made from chocolate and corn flour.
The tamal takes on special importance during this time of year, as they are like little edible gifts that can be unwrapped. So as we prepare to open our homes, and to visit the homes of others, we always prepare for Las Posadas with a variety of tamales and lots of ponche. Tamales are time consuming, meaning they are an act of love. Luckily, you can make tamales ahead of time and freeze them for future use.
As a special treat, we make a few different dessert tamales, which are specially loved by the kids. For this recipe I’m incorporating the sweetened cinnamon-rice flavors from Cacique Strawberry Horchata into the masa, or dough. The masa will take on a light pink hue, to gently hint at what is inside. The filling is an eggy custard-like pudding made from Cacique Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie mixed with freshly diced strawberries. We are lucky in Southern California to still have fresh strawberries available to us this time of year, but if you’re having a tough time finding fresh strawberries, try using other berries or drained frozen strawberries. Either way, the Cacique Strawberry Yogurt filling is going to knock your socks off. It reminds me of eating a pan dulce that my mom used to buy for me at the Bowie Bakery growing up in El Paso. While perfectly matched with the Strawberry Horchata Masa, the Strawberry Yogurt filling would be great in a tart or layered between cakes.
I hope you approach this recipe with love and patience, as that is how it was created. If you’ve never made tamales before, this is good place to start. Unlike savory tamales, this Strawberry Horchata Masa is firmer and easier to manipulate. Make them today, and freeze them for the holidays.