This is draft one for the CHOW Recipe Lab. Try it! Post your comments to this thread.
While many Americans are familiar with savory tamales, the sweet ones are less commonly served in restaurants. They’re more of a special-occasion family recipe. As with many homemade recipes, there are as many variations as there are cooks, and they can contain anything from cinnamon to red food coloring. This particular tamale recipe doesn’t come from any particular region in Mexico although it’s got flavors that you’ll find in many sweet tamales: nuts, fruit, and spice.
What to buy: Maseca is an instant slaked corn meal that is useful in making tamales. It’s widely available (in Latin markets and the ethnic aisle of many grocery stores) and yields consistent results so we used it here (Do you prefer non-instant? Tell us about it on the Recipe Lab thread. ). You can also purchase freshly made masa dough at many Latin markets.
Corn husks for making tamales can be found in Latin markets.
Game plan: The dough can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can form the tamales up to 1 day ahead of time and keep them covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To make the tamales: