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Blackberry & Strawberry Sweet Tamales with Tangerine Atole  by Chef Yuri de Gortari

Blackberry & Strawberry Sweet Tamales with Tangerine Atole by Chef Yuri de Gortari

El Día de la Candelaria is here, and Mexico is planning on diving into the wonderful custom of sharing tamales and atole with family and friends. Throughout my life in Mexico, I believed that making tamales was a mysterious, difficult endeavor that a non-expert like me would never be able to accomplish, so I always bought the tamales for this day, as I believe many of Mexicans do.
However, after watching the video of our dear maestro and chef Yuri de Gortari, I  decided to try making some tamales this year on my own (let’s see how that pans out). Chef Yuri is the owner of one of the most prestigious traditional Mexican cooking schools, Escuela de Gastronomía Mexicana, that offers classes on so many interesting topics, from one-day courses on Mexican classics like Tacos de Canasta, Chocolate en Metate, Mexican Salsas, all the way to the 2-5 weeks’ and 12 months’ immersion classes to the Mexican cuisine. Highly recommended!

Chef Yuri de Gortari, ESGAMEX

The tamale recipe that we chose to share this year are for the sweet, buttery tamales with blackberries and strawberries. Of course, el Día de la Candelaria wouldn’t be complete without some tasty atole, and the maestro chose to show us how to make a very special tangerine flavored version, that will be the sensation of your Candelaria gathering this year.
Here you can watch the maestro himself, taking you step by step through the process. The video is in Spanish, so we are offering the English version below to help our non-Spanish speaking crowd.


Chef Yuri de Gortari making Blackberry and Strawberry Sweet Tamales with Tangerine Atole

Sweet Blackberry and Strawberry Tamales



Tamale dough (make two batches if you are preparing both flavors):

  • Corn husk leaves
  • 250g (9oz) butter
  • 240g (1 cup) sugar
  • 2 teaspoonful of baking powder
  • 250g (1 cup) corn flour
  • Milk as needed
  • 250g (1 cup) rice flour

Blackberry Marmalade Filling:

  • 1kg (4 cups) blackberries
  • 1kg (4 cups) sugar

Strawberry Filling:

  • ½ kg (2 cups) strawberries
  • ½ kg (2 cups) sugar



We will make the blackberry marmalade first. Wash all blackberries, dry them and place them in a pan, preferably a copper cazo that distributes the heat uniformly and prevents the marmalade from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Copper cazos will also reduce the amount of time you need to spend next to the stove watching and stirring the marmalade, unlike the pots and pans made of other materials. Chef Yuri recommends using the small, sweet and flavorful blackberries for this. Add the same amount of sugar. Place on the stove, and let the fruit release its juices until it boils, then reduce the heat to permit it to slowly simmer until it reaches the consistency of a marmalade.

While the marmalade is slowly cooking on the stove (don’t forget to check it out from time to time), we can prepare the tamale dough. Chef Yuri prefers making the tamale dough by hand, but this time he teaches us how to use a beater for that purpose. This dough will be used for both blackberry and strawberry tamales.

Place all the butter in the mixing bowl. Let the beater do its job it until the butter becomes creamy white, then add sugar and continue mixing. In a separate bowl mix corn flour and the baking powder. Add the flour/powder mix slowly to the mixing bowl and continue mixing it. Add a bit of milk. While mixing, add the rice flour little by little. The dough is ready when the dough bubbles start popping, which means there is enough air trapped in the dough to make it soft and allow to rise properly.

Now that the tamale dough and the blackberry marmalade are ready, let’s make the strawberry filling. Wash strawberries and let them dry. Cut them in half, not smaller. This way we allow pieces of fruit to have a stronger, more intense flavor and add an imposing presence in the tamale. Place the halves in a pan, which will allow you to use agile and quick movements as this filling will be ready in no time. Copper cazos are again the best option for this, especially the traditional cazos made by the artisans in Michoacán. Add sugar and start stirring. As the sugar melts and the fruit releases its juices, stir it a little bit longer, but not too long – the fruit will continue to be cooked inside the tamal later on.

Let both fillings cool off before wrapping the tamales. Never place a hot filling in the tamale dough made with butter, it will soften and melt the dough.


At this point, I highly recommend you see how Chef Yuri wraps a tamal the proper way (min 12:30) as no description will ever do it justice, but we’ll try: Take a leaf of the corn husk (hoja de totomoxtle), previously humidified; open it and hold it in your hand; take a large spoonful of the tamale dough and spread it over a palm-wide area inside the husk. Chef Yuri recommends making smaller tamales (so we can eat several, and especially if there are many different flavors available, we can try them all). On top of the dough, place a spoonful of filling. As you wrap the husk around the dough, it will encircle the filling and grasp it tightly. Fold the corn husk with the tamale dough and filling inside; make sure the dough is wrapped around the filling; roll the long edges of the husk to keep the tamale tightly inside, without pushing it too much towards the opening at the bottom of the husk, because when the tamale starts rising during cooking, the dough may come out; now fold the husk in half and place the tamale with the opening side up. When all tamales are all prepared, place them in a steamer and cook them them for an hour, or up to an hour and 15 minutes, with a lid closed.

Blackberry and Strawberry Sweet Tamales

* The traditional wisdom says that while the tamales are being cooked, we should tie the ears of the pot so that they would hear the kitchen gossip and get spoiled. Details like this will make us feel as we were in a real Mexican kitchen, following the centuries old traditions and folk beliefs, and keep that ancient spirit and stories alive.

Mexico 1492 - While cooking tamales...

And while the tamales are being cooked, we will proceed with the astonishing…


Tangerine Atole



  • 100g corn flour, white
  • water
  • sugar
  • 250ml (1 cup) tangerine juice


This recipe shows a different way of making an atole, with a corn flour instead of the corn dough. The white corn flour is the best choice, due to its texture and color that will allow the soft, orange tones of the tangerine to pop.

Add corn flour to some water and stir until all the lumps dissolve. Pour the liquid in the pot you will use to prepare the atole, add all the water and place it on the stove. With a flat wooden spoon continuously stir the liquid, until it boils and starts getting thicker. While stirring, share the moment with your loved ones, tell the stories of how your mom, grandma or great grandma used to make those special dishes that you all know and loved. Let the nostalgy take you down the memory lane and enjoy it.

When atole boils, add sugar and continue stirring. In a short while, when you start feeling that atole is getting thicker, add the tangerine juice.

 Tangerine Atole

Serve with tamales and enjoy!

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