Tamal de Piña (Sweet Tamales with Pineapple), photo by Sonia Mendez GarciaPhoto by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Tamal de Piña (Sweet Tamales with Pineapple)

Cuisine: Latin
Prep Time: 50-60 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 15-20 tamales
If you've never had sweet tamales, this recipe is the perfect introduction to a tasty Mexican dessert!

It still surprises me how many people don't know how delicious sweet tamales can be. For many, the only tamal is the traditional savory version filled with chicken, pork or rajas (roasted poblano strips). But I'm willing to bet that one bite of these sweet tamales will change your mind!

I remember as a kid, I would get so full on these tamales de piña while waiting for the savory ones to cook, that I would have to wait until the next day to eat them. In our house, there were always pineapple tamales with a little shredded coconut and raisins mixed in. They were a must on the holidays, but you can make them anytime! I like to prepare a batch of sweet pineapple tamales to serve to my friends as a special Mexican dessert. Try different fruit combinations, such as strawberry or blueberries, drizzled with a little sweetened condensed milk. What a treat!

Ingredients

  • 15-20 dried corn husks for tamales
  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups masa harina
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/3 cup pineapple preserves
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple finely diced
  • 1 cup dulce de leche
  • pecan halves (optional, for garnish)

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Directions

  1. Soak the corn husks in really hot water and set aside.  
  2. Cream together the butter, shortening and sugar. In another bowl, combine the masa harina, baking powder and salt. Gradually add in the warm water until the dough forms.
  3. Mix in the masa to the creamed butter/sugar mixture. Fold in the pineapple preserves and fresh pineapple.
  4. Shake off the excess water from the corn husks. Take one husk and fill down the center with about 3 tablespoons of masa/pineapple mixture. Fold in the two sides to close, then fold flap down. Set aside, seam-side down as you fill them.
  5. Fill the bottom of a steamer pot. Insert and arrange the filled tamales, open side up. Cover and turn the heat to high, until the pot begins to steam rapidly.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking for 1 hour, making sure you don't run out of water. Remove from heat and let stand for 10-20 minutes. Serve with dulce de leche and garnish with pecans.

Chef Notes

Freeze a  brick of cream cheese. Slice into thin strips and add them to the center of the pineapple/masa mix for a sweet and salty flavor combination to these tasty dessert tamales.

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