When Meg, Kate, and I got together to throw a tamalada (aka a tamale-making party), I wanted to make dessert! I had only had a few sweet tamales and had never been bowled over by any I had tried so I went rogue and made my own version. This one is a nod to sweet potato casserole that so many people make for the holidays but with no marshmallows and an unexpected sweet-spicy chocolate sauce!
soaked in hot water for at least 20 minutes
plus more for garnish
Soak corn husks in large bowl of hot water for 1/2 hour, then separate and continue to soak until pliable, up to 1/2 hour more. Tear one or two husks into 1/4-inch wide strips to use for tying the tamales. Boil 1 cup water in medium saucepan. Remove from heat and gradually stir in masa. Cover and let cool until room temperature.
Husks may be soaked up to 1 day ahead; store in covered container in fridge. Bring to room temperature before using.
To make the tamale filling, combine the sweet potatoes, hot water, masa harina, coconut flakes, pecans, brown sugar, coconut oil, baking powder, vanilla extract, kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, and cloves and mix until thoroughly combined.
Arrange steamer insert in a large stockpot and add water to just below bottom of the setamer insert but make sure the water doesn't touch bottom of the insert. Cover and bring water to boil. Meanwhile, make the tamales. Place 24 drained corn husks on work surface. Divide the masa among the husks, placing the mixture in the middle of each husk. Fold long sides over filling, then tie ends of tamale shut with husk strips. Repeat process to make 24 tamales.
Arrange tamales in the pot upright, leaning against one another. Cover and steam until dough is firm to touch and separates easily from husk, adding more water to pot as necessary, about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce.Slice off stem end of each chile and remove seeds. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, then toast chiles, turning frequently, until fragrant and beginning to darken, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl, cover with boiling water, and soak 20 minutes. Meanwhile, place chocolate and coconut milk in top of a double-boiler and melt over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, drain chilies and combine in blender with 1/2 cup of orange juice, maple syrup, and remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Blend until very smooth. Taste and adjust flavoring as desired.
Sauce may be soaked up to 2 days ahead; store in covered container in fridge. Warm until pourable before using.
Once the tamales are cooked, remove them from the steamer and let cool until you can unwrap them. Serve unwrapped tamales garnished with chocolate sauce, a drizzle of coconut milk, and some cacao nibs.