Sweet Tamales

  • Serves

    makes 24

Masa harina, a dried, floury form of masa (Mexican corn dough), is sold in many supermarkets.


  • 4 oz. dried corn husks
  • 1 14 cups masa harina
  • 2 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored,and coarsely chopped
  • 13 cup raisin
  • 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 12 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 14 tsp. salt


Step 1

Separate husks, then soak in a large bowl of hot water until pliable, at least 1 hour. Put masa harina into a medium bowl, add 1 1⁄4 cups boiling water, and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cover dough with plastic wrap and set aside to let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Step 2

Put apples, raisins, 5 tbsp. of the sugar, 1 tsp. of the cinnamon, and 3 cups water into a medium pot. Simmer over medium heat until soft, 20–30 minutes. Strain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Transfer fruit to a bowl, mash with a fork, then add vanilla. Set aside fruit and cooking liquid separately to let cool completely.

Step 3

Beat shortening in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add masa dough and remaining 3⁄4 cup sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add 3⁄4–1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid while continuing to beat until mixture is the consistency of thick cake batter. Add baking powder and salt and beat masa dough about 1 minute more.

Step 4

Drain husks. Tear 8 husks lengthwise into 48 thin strips and set aside. Place 24 of the husks, concave side up, on a work surface. Put 2 tbsp. of the masa dough into center of each husk and spoon 1 heaping tsp. of mashed fruit in center of masa. Fold long sides over filling, then tie ends of tamale shut with husk strips. Repeat process to make 24 tamales. Place upright, leaning them against one another, in the top of a steamer. Place steamer over a pot of simmering water over medium heat, cover, and steam until husks separate from filling easily, about 1 hour. Allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.

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