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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.
As always, you need to eat Tamales Dulces (or sweet tamales) with a big cup of champurrado or serve them with a huge stack of buñuelos. Hope you enjoy!
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
- 3 cups 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 water for masa
- 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 and 1/2 cup water 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.
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
I never realised you could make sweet tamales! I cannot wait to give this recipe a try!
Tamales dulces are amazing! Hope you try them!
I don’t get sweet tamales often, these are amazing and worth the effort!
This recipe is amazing. Hope you try it”!
I love fresh tamales but I’ve never tried sweet ones before. These look amazing! I’ll be making these for sure!
Hope you try them. this recipe is really good!
I am so loving this Tamales Dulces right now!
Glad you enjoyed this recipe!
Love tamales and the different versions. This was great! My family loved it:)
This recipe is amazing. Glad you liked it!
Ooh….sweet tamales are a family favorite. I’m pinning to make when the weather cools off.
Hope you try this recipe. Is delicious!
I love to try this dessert tamales, I will let you know how it turn out. perfect recipe.
Please ease do. This recipe is amazing!
My first time hearing of sweet tamales. I enjoy the savory ones. Great recipe and very well explained.
Hope you try it! It’s delicious.
I have had savory tamales once but this is the first time I’m hearing the sweet version. This looks delicious.
And it is. Hope you try them!
I want to try these tamales as my husband loved my mother’s. How much prepared masa is needed?
Hi. Please see the recipe card. All the instructions are there. How much masa you need and the exact ingredients. Hope your hubby loves them!
O.k., I’m doing it. After having just finished making over 20 pounds worth of masa for savory tamales I am going to use your recipe to make sweet tamales. My mom loves my savory tamales so much she has been asking me to try making sweet tamales. So after reviewing several recipes, I’m using yours because it most closely resembles the version my mother has described–with raisins and coconut. (Plus your mention of being Gen 2 made me think your improvements would be just the thing to finally make me a fan of sweet tamales.) However, she also mentioned using piloncillo which is a raw version of cane sugar similar to brown sugar. My mom used it frequently when I was growing up. The flavor is more like molasses, which may complement the pineapple but be too heavy for the coconut. I’m just going to use your recipe and maybe try piloncillo some other time. I am just about tamale’d out at this point! LOL But this is the only thing I can give to my mom for Christmas that I know she’ll appreciate. Wish me luck! ¡Feliz Navidad!
I’m sure your mom will love these tamales. You can add grated piloncillo, but I find these to be sweet enough. If you’re not afraid to taste the dough, taste it. If you want it sweeter, add some piloncillo.
I love your recipe fore tamzles pinas, but I’d like to try making strawberry one (fresas). Do I use fresh or frozen?
What quantity–a pint/quart fresh? A 10 or 16 oz frozen? With raisins? With coconut? With banana? With ??? I’ll use walnuts or pecans to replace peanuts.
How about pumpkin tamales? Canned pumpkin puree or pumpkin pie mix? Raisins or dates. Walnuts or pecans instead of peanuts. Substitute sweet potato puree for pumpkin? (My adult son recently developed an allergy to all types of melons and squash, even after eating both all his life!)
Hope you can help with my dilemma! Thanx in advance…
I don’t have a recipe for strawberry tamales, but I do have one for pumpkin tamales. I suggest serving them with sweetened condensed milk. Here’s the recipe https://inmamamaggieskitchen.com/pumpkin-tamales/