Tamales de Calabaza (Pumpkin Tamales)

October is squash season. I am adapting a recipe from Chef George Duran and decided on tamales as it would be really a challenge for me. Years ago when I worked for the Mexican Tourist Office here in New York I was able to travel many times to beautiful and exiting Mexico. I ate the food, drank their tequila and fell in love with its people.
Usually tamales are savory, but these will be sweet.

About 40 dried corn husks
3-1/2 cups Maseca corn flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 29-ounce can of pumpkin purée
2 sticks of butter, melted
1+ cup of warm water
1 cup of walnuts, chopped (I used toasted hazelnuts)
1 cup of raisins
Queso fresco, shredded for garnish


Fill a large bowl with hot water and soak corn husks until softened for about 30 minutes.

In an extra-large bowl add Maseca corn flour and the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix together making sure that all of the clumps are broken up with your fingers. Then add all the wet ingredients and once again, use your hands to mix the corn flour. Add more water as needed until you achieve the consistency of peanut butter. Fold in the nuts and raisins.

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Assemble the tamales by using a rubber spatula to spread ½ cup to 1 cup of dough mixture onto the corn husk, depending on the size of the corn husk. The spread should cover about two-thirds of the husk, away from the pointed end, making sure you leave some space on each side to fold. Gently fold one side of the corn husk to the other end and fold up the pointed end across. Lay each tamal fold-side down. There should be an open end to each tamal.

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I do not own a Tamalera pot, so I used an inverted strainer that fits on bottom of large pot and added about 2-3 inches of water. Stack the tamales straight up and steam with the lid on for about 90 minutes.

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Remove each tamal with tongs and let rest for a few minutes before serving it as a sweet side-dish or grated with queso fresco.



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