This sweet tamale recipe is brimming with raspberry goodness in both the masa dough and the filling for a burst of sunshine in every bite.
Types of tamales
Tamale recipes are available in both savory and sweet versions. This was the first time I tried to make a sweet version and they’re AMAZING! I’m going to give Tamales de Framboises (Spanish for “Raspberry Tamales”) two thumbs way up.
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In addition to the savory tamales, you can also find sweet dessert tamales at many celebrations among Mexican families. I discovered that the Christmas season in Mexico runs from December 12 and ends on February 2. Isn’t that fun? Whoever finds the toy Baby Jesus inside the rosca sweet bread is responsible for making tamales for everyone during the February 2 final celebration. This reminds me of the Mardi Gras tradition which is very similar.
Are tamales difficult?
Tamales can have lots of steps which can be deceiving. They give the appearance of being difficult when they’re really not.
This recipe for dessert tamales turns out to be the easiest of all the tamales I’ve prepared. The filling is purchased already made so you don’t need any extra preparation time for it. And, the recipe only makes 25 tamales so that helps with time management as well.
If you’ve been wanting to learn to make tamales, this is really a great beginners tamale project.
How to wrap sweet tamales
1. Once you soak the corn husks overnight, they will be more pliable and easier to handle. Some corn husks will be ready in just a couple of hours but some really take all night. Check the husk to see which side is smooth and which side is ridged. With ridge-side down, place the corn husk flat in front of you with the short end at your non-dominant hand.
2. With the back of a spoon, place about two tablespoons of masa dough on the corn husk (on the smooth side) and spread a little, without going all the way out to the edges. This masa dough is a little more sticky than savory masa dough, so keep a small bowl of cool water nearby. Dip your spoon in it anytime, to help spread the dough.
3. Spoon about a tablespoon of filling in a line in the middle of the masa dough. You can substitute raspberry jelly, if you prefer. Be sure to use a fresh jar of jelly since it will be easier to spread at room temperature.
4. Fold the corn husk vertically, so that it is touching, edge to edge. Push back the top to condense and shape the dough into a nice tube.
5. Begin rolling toward you until it is completely rolled up.
6. Bend the short side under so that the point of the tamal is covering the fold. Keep going with your tamales until you run out of one of the things, either filling, dough or corn husks.
Are tamales gluten free?
Normally, tamales are 100% gluten free. They’re also usually dairy and egg free. Sweet tamales, though, are not always gluten free unless you make some substitutions.
All the ingredients in this raspberry tamales recipe can be easily found in gluten free versions so just check your ingredients. But, making them dairy free will take a little extra effort.
You can use Crisco shortening in place of the butter. If you still want the butter taste, a butter flavored shortening is also available. I think you may also be able to use coconut oil. I’ve seen other recipes calling for coconut oil, but I haven’t had a chance to try it.
This recipe also uses milk. I’m not sure but I think you may be able to substitute any of the non-dairy milk substitutes such as almond milk, coconut milk, etc.
Looking for other tamales?
If you’re looking for my savory tamale recipes, try these:
This recipe was featured in this roundup of 8 Favorite Recipes for Cinco de Mayo.
Raspberry Sweet Tamales Dessert
- Stock Pot and Steamer Basket or Tamale Steamer
- 8 ounces Corn Husks, softened in water overnight, approx. 25
- 1.5 cups Henry & Henry Raspberry Filling
- 3 cups Masa Harina, like Maseca
- 1 tablespoon Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 cup Unsalted Butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 1.5 cups 2% Milk
- 3 or 4 drops Red Food Coloring, optional
- 6 ounces Raspberries, fresh, quartered
Preparing Corn Husks
- Being careful not to rip the corn husks, wash with cool water and a brush to remove all debris and corn silks.
- Place in a large pan or dishpan or even in a clean sink. Fill with cool water to cover the husks. Place a large heavy dish or plate on top to ensure that the husks are all underwater. Leave them overnight.
Preparing Masa Dough
- Whisk together masa harina, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl.
- With mixer, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Mix in vanilla extract.
- Mix in ⅓ of masa harina mixture with ⅓ of milk until blended. Repeat until all the masa harina mixture and milk have been blended well.
- If desired, add red food coloring to tint the mixture. For point of reference, there is no food coloring in the tamales shown.
- Mix in quartered fresh raspberries just until mixed.
Assembling the Tamales
- Separate and pat dry a few husks at a time. Inspect to ensure that you have the smooth side facing upwards. Turn it vertically and hold the skinnier end with your non-dominant hand. Spread about two tablespoons masa dough as shown in the photos above.
- Spread about one tablespoon of the filling in a line close to the top.
- Fold the husk vertically, edge to edge. With your dominant hand, push the top back a little with the filling and curl toward you to form a tube. Fold over the skinnier end and place in a tray with seam side down. Repeat until you run out of one of the ingredients (husks, masa or filling).
Steaming the Tamales
- In a large stockpot, place a steamer basket and fill with water up to the basket. Stack the tamales straight up in the stock pot with the fold at the bottom.
- Cover and heat to boiling then reduce heat to low to keep the water steaming through the tamales. Check the water level every 10-15 minutes when using a steamer basket since the water level is already low. You don't want the water to dry up. When replenishing water, move the tamales out of the way before pouring so you don't get extra water inside the tamales. When removing the lid to check the tamales, try not to tilt it since this might add water to the inside of the tamales.
- Cook for 60 to 90 minutes. After about 60 minutes, pull out one of the tamales and remove it from the husk to check for doneness. If it comes clean from the husk, it's done. If not, keep going for 15 minutes and try again. If still not quite done, you'll need 15 minutes more.
- Remove from heat. Serve immediately. Allow to cool completely before storing in the refrigerator or freezer. When storing, leave them in the husks.
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