Tamales Dulces (Sweet Tamales) are a favorite during the Holidays. A mixture of fruits and nuts wrapped in corn husks. They make a delicious and yummy Mexican dessert. Watch the VIDEO or check out the step-by-step pictures below.
My mom always makes tamales dulces for Christmas. She maintains that they are indeed sweet but for me, they always needed sugar. By the way, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. So, I played around with the recipe and came up with something that I absolutely love. No joke. I think they’re better than my mom’s… I love you, mom!
Potential movie title: “Tamales Dulces – The Next Generation.”
My recipe has all the ingredients as my mom’s traditional recipe. The whole gang is here: Raisins, pineapple, coconut, peanuts, sugar, and so forth. However, there’s a little something extra that’s a great secret. Yes, even Mama Maggie can get a little tricky in the kitchen.
The Trick: Just like to make the dressing for Ensalada Navideña (or Mexican Christmas Fruit Salad), you need to use the juice from the pineapple can. For my Tamales Dulces, I am using the pineapple juice instead of water. Revolutionary? No. But it does improve upon the original. It will add sweetness to the mix but not too much.
Start by whipping the shortening. You will need the whipping beater for the Kitchen Aid. You can also do this by hand or with a hand mixer. Just so long as you whip it. Whip it real good! 😉
This is not the normal masa for tamales, but you can use that in a pinch. If you decide to use store-bought masa or have extra from other tamales, skip the pineapple juice and add more sugar.
Notice I changed paddles. (No, I’m not paddling upstream). Once it’s nice and fluffy, add the masa harina (or corn flour) little by little. You do not want to add it all in at once. You want the masa and the shortening to be fully incorporated.
Note: As weird as it may sound, you can use lard to make Sweet Tamales. This is the contribution of one sweet little piggy. Think about how you might use lard to make a great flaky pie crust.
Baking powder makes tamales poof out. This is an essential ingredient in making tamales. There are no substitutes.
This is only 1/2 cup of sugar. If you are using water instead of pineapple juice because that’s how your grandma made Tamales Dulces, you might need more sugar than just 1/2 cup.
Add the pineapple juice from the can slowly. Again, we want to fully incorporate the liquid into the masa mixture AND you don’t want it to splash everywhere. You want to exercise caution to avoid a “Clean up on Aisle 5”!
Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. In Mama Maggie’s Kitchen, we have a policy of “We will leave no masa behind.” No way, no how.
Once you have turned off the mixer it’s time to add the cinnamon (Don’t you just love that stuff?!). Turn on the mixer again. This time, let it continue on for a minute or so just to make sure you got everything mixed in.
Remove the bowl from the Kitchen Aid and add the raisins. No, these aren’t the singing California raisings belting out “Heard it Through the Grapevine.” These guys may look small now, but they are going to plump up in the cooking process.
These are cocktail peanuts. Be sure to get the kind without the shells. This is a “shell free zone.” LOL. The peanuts are salted. There is no salt in the recipe. That’s why I can use salted peanuts.
I really like the taste of shredded coconut. Having lived in the tropical region of Tabasco, Mexico, we had an abundance of super fresh coconut. Here in the U.S, you buy a small package of dried shredded coconut and it tastes great in the tamales.
My favorite part of these sweet tamales: biting into pineapple chunks. Yum! Sweet and goes perfectly with all the other ingredients. There is something about making a sweet dessert chunky-style that makes it extra special.
From here, mix it well. I do this by hand. I do not stick it back under the mixer. You can, but I want to make sure the bottom is scraped up and everything is fully incorporated.
Make sure you get some really nice corn husks. In this case, our corn husks have been soaked, and they are ready to go! Go husks! Go! Time to assemble the tamales…
Apply some of the masa mixture to the inside of the corn husk. My mom will drop a small ball of the masa right in the center and fold it up. I wanted BIG tamales – ones that can be seen five doors down from my house. 🙂 If you are making these tamales for a bigger group, just double the batch and make smaller tamales.
Fold one end in. The masa will help in the sealing of the corn husks. Think of this masa mixture as “dessert glue.”
Fold the other end in.
Do you see that pointy top? Find the spot where there is no more masa.
Fold the pointy top in. My mom and some people will tie them together for a nice presentation. She probably thinks that “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that string.” I, however, can afford to be lazy in my tamale making. The way that I see it: I went through the effort to make tamales. That in itself is a presentation to behold.
Add hot water to the steamer and place the tamales inside. Steam them upright. You want the open side to be up. This will take about 1 ½ hours. Check the water after 1 hour. If it needs more, add more water. You really don’t want to hear your family say, “Hey, mom! The tamales are burning!”
Then, turn off the heat and let them sit for another ½ hour. When the masa pulls away from the corn husk easily, that’s when they are ready.
Watch the video to learn to make Tamales Dulces
- 12 corn husks
- Water (enough to submerge the corn husks)
- 1/2 cup shortening (or 1 stick)
- 1 1/2 lbs Masa Harina (or corn flour)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 20-ounce can of diced pineapple, divided
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup peanuts
- 1 2-ounce package shredded coconut
- Water (for steamer)
Soak the corn husks in warm water for at least 30 minutes.
The longer, the better.
Be sure to completely submerge the corn husks in water.
In a large mixer, whip the shortening until light and fluffy.
About 2 minutes on high.
Slowly add the masa harina (or corn flour).
Add the sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon.
Mix on low for 1 minute or until fully incorporated.
Separate the diced pineapple and juice from the can.
Set the diced pineapple fruit aside until ready to use.
Slowly drizzle the pineapple juice from the can into the masa mixture.
Mix on low for 1-2 minutes or until fully mixed.
By hand, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Mix to combine.
Add the pineapple, raisins, peanuts, and shredded coconut.
Mix until everything is fully combined.
Drain and shake off any excess water from the corn husks.
Add a spoonful of the masa mixture to the center of a corn husk.
Fold one side in.
Fold the other side over.
Find the point where there is no more masa on the top of the corn husk.
Fold the pointy top over to the center of the tamal.
Set aside and repeat until there is no more masa and/ or corn husks.
Add hot water to the bottom of the steamer.
Carefully assemble tamales inside the steamer.
Cook on low for 1 1/2 hours.
Check water after 1 hour.
If it needs more water, add more water.
The tamales can take up to 2 hours to cook.
Check to see if the tamales are ready after 1 1/2 hours.
The tamales are ready when the masa pulls away from the corn husk easily.
Once you have turned off the heat, let the tamales sit for 30 minutes.
To stretch your masa, add less masa to the corn husks and make smaller tamales.
You can use water instead of pineapple juice, but be sure to add more sugar to the masa mixture.
Lard can replace shortening. 1:1 ratio
If you are using store-bought masa, skip the pineapple juice and add more sugar.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
For More Tamales Recipes
Masa for Tamales
Tamales de Rajas con Queso, Pickled Jalapeño and Cheese Tamales
Instant Pot Chicken Tamales
Beef Tamales, Tamales de Res
Red Pork Tamales (Tamales de Puerco en Chile Rojo)
Chicken Salsa Verde Tamales
Northern Style Bean Tamales, or Tamales de Frijol Norteños