Kate of ¡HOLA! JALAPEÑO and I became friends back when we worked together developing recipes and food stying in the Test Kitchens at CHOW Magazine.
The standard routine was cook, taste, critique, not dissimilar to what you see in in the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen videos. Without a doubt I became a better cook because of the constant feedback loop.
Though we worked together for years, it was when I got an invite to her annual Tamalada that I felt like I really had made it as her friend.
As you know a tamalada is like a cookie swap but with tamales where family and friends come together during the holidays to make tons and tons of tamales. It's a lot of work but fun and so worth it because the result is a lot of delicious food.
It seemed high time to share the ins and outs with you all, which is why we created this virtual Tamalada. Aside from all the tips we shared about, you know, the actual tamale-making process, know this: you'll want plenty of snacks to fuel you through the task.
I'm partial to what I affectionately all "Mex Mix." As you probably guessed from the name, it's a twist on Chex Mix loaded with lots of ingredients often used in Mexican cuisine like pecans, plantains, pepitas, and it gets finished in a chocolate-spiced coating.
If you've made any similar snack mix, you know the deal, you bake some parts, make a coating, and toss it all together. Translation: it's super simple to make but there still are a few key tips:
Okay, truth is, you could eat this recipe as is on the couch while streaming Netflix and that would be 1000% acceptable. But if you want to serve it as part of a menu or a cocktail party, here are a few recipes we'd suggest to pair it with:
Roast The Nuts: Heat the oven to 350°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with a baking mat or parchment. Place the cashews and pecans on the baking sheet and roast until they start to smell toasted, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside while you make the coating.
Make The Spiced Sugar: Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the dark brown sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil, cinnamon, cocoa powder, kosher salt, and cayenne over medium heat. Stir until the mixture is liquid and just begins to bubble.
Bake The Nuts: Combine the roasted nuts with the remaining ingredients (the pretzel sticks, plantain chips, and pepitas) in a large bowl, pour in the spice mixture from the saucepan and stir until well coated. Turn the mixture on the prepared baking sheet and bake until the mixture bubbles and the nuts are fragrant, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the mixture from the oven and let everything cool completely before storing it. The snack mix will stay fresh for about a week when stored in an airtight container.
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