While many Americans are familiar with savory tamales, the sweet ones are less commonly served in restaurants; they’re more of a special-occasion, make-at-home dish. As is typical of family recipes, there are as many variations as there are cooks. This recipe doesn’t come from any particular region in Mexico, but it features ingredients you’ll find in many sweet tamales: nuts, fruit, and spices.
What to buy: Masa harina is dried, powdered masa (dried corn that has been cooked and soaked in limewater, then ground while wet); we like Maseca brand, an instant slaked cornmeal that is useful in making tamales. It’s widely available in Latin markets or the ethnic aisle of many grocery stores, and yields consistent results. You can also purchase freshly made masa dough at many Latin markets.
Corn husks can be found at Latin markets.
Game plan: The dough and filling can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated in a covered container. Alternatively, you can form the tamales up to 1 day ahead and keep them covered in the refrigerator until ready to steam and serve.
To help you make the perfect tamale, see our step-by-step guide to forming tamales.
This recipe was featured as part of our Tamales for the Holidays project.