It’s not Christmas until the tamales are made. For my family, and so many others, it’s a tradition that involves participation from everyone — in many ways a rite of passage.
I remember very clearly the day I was first allowed to help. It was at my Grandma Ollie’s ranch, and I must have been around six or seven. Sitting around the long counter right next to my Ma, I was handed an oja (corn husk) and a spoon.
My job was to spread masa on as many ojas as I could. I recall my Grandma helping me figure out how to hold the oja in my little hand.
There’s a distinct way to gently use the spoon to smooth out the masa in swift strokes. I was so frustrated at first.
I recall feeling like each oja took FOREVER to do!
But, I was at the table. And, that’s what mattered.
An assembly line of family members laughing, working, and celebrating an extraordinary culinary experience rooted in my heritage — a memory that would imprint on my heart forever.
To be able to continue the tradition — right next to my Ma and with Grandma Ollie at 99 years and still in charge of the crew — means everything to me and more.
Merry Christmas. May your own family traditions during the holiday season be as special to you as mine are to me.
*song used for entertainment only – no copyright infringement intended*
Turkey Day down and Christmas to go! We’ve just tackled that one day of the year where we bake and cook nonstop for 48-72 hours to enjoy about 30 minutes of eating, and now we’re onto the holiday season of never-ending Christmas parties, holiday gatherings, and all things dessert! Now, whether you’re hosting a holiday party or want to bring something over to someone’s house, this is a quick and easy delicious dessert that involves two of my absolute favorite ingredients: cherries and spiced rum! Okay, three… and, chocolate!
This “no frills” recipe packs a solid punch of flavor without too much fuss, and you can make everything ahead of time, too. Also, it has one major shortcut that will save you tons of time and a few dishes to wash. I’m all about making things from scratch, and I’m also all about not having to wash a million dishes after I’m done. These tartlets meet the “scratch baking with minimal dishes to wash” criteria.
1 Package Fresh Cherries, halved and pitted
1/3 Cup Sugar or Truvia
1 TBS Mexican Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Chocolate Extract
1/2 Cup Spiced Rum
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 TBS All-Purpose Flour
24 Dollops Sweetened Whipped Cream
1 Small Bar of Dark Chocolate
1 Box Ready to Bake Pie Crust Top and Bottom (2 rolls) <—- major shortcut
Preheat your oven to 350°. Set aside two mini muffin tins.
Into a small saucepan and off the heat, add the halved and pitted fresh cherries, one cinnamon stick, and 1/3 cup of sugar or Truvia.
Add the vanilla extract, chocolate extract, and spiced rum to the cherry mixture.
Heat mixture on a medium-high stove until it starts to rapid boil, stirring frequently.
After approximately 10 minutes, the cherries will soften, and the rum will have cooked down to create a thin sauce.
Using a spoon, ladle a few teaspoons of sauce from the cherries into a small container, and add flour and stir briskly, avoiding any lumps. This creates a slurry or a thickening agent for the cherries. Add the slurry back to the cherry mixture and stir well. Reduce heat to medium-low and let thicken for another 10 minutes, stirring intermittently. Turn off heat after the 10 minutes and let cool completely in the saucepan.
While the cherries are cooling, unroll the two ready to bake pie crusts, and using a small glass or biscuit cutter, cut out 24 circles. Place them in the mini muffin tins to create tartlets.
Bake the tartlets off at 350° for about 12 – 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove the tartlets from the mini muffin tins, and set aside to cool. Once the tartlet shells and cherries have cooled, spoon some of the cherries into each of the tartlet shells.
Place a dollop of sweetened whipped cream atop each tartlet, and then shave the bar of dark chocolate over the tartlets using a Microplane.
Cooking the cherry mixture and baking off the tartlet shells can be done a day or two ahead of time. And, you can fancy up the tartlets by creating ribbons of chocolate over top, too. This is an amazingly decadent dessert that you can make in no time!
Whether you make them for the holiday party or if you keep them all to yourself to enjoy by the fireplace (you know I’m not judging), you will absolutely love these Chocolate Cherry Rum Spiced Tartlets!