Serves a Crowd

Maplelicious Sweet Tamales with Guajillo-Chocolate Sauce

December  6, 2010
3 Ratings
  • Serves 6 Servings (two tamales + 2-3 tablespoons sauce)
Author Notes

This is a delicious and unexpected sweet savory combination that is a great addition to any holiday plated breakfast or breakfast buffet (serve sauce separately for buffet). These tamales would also be awesome as a surprising dessert, too! This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. - gr8chefmb —gr8chefmb

Test Kitchen Notes

These tamales give your taste buds a heck of a ride. The coconut, masa and maple syrup mix for a mellow but anticipatory ascent to the smoky pinnacle of the chipotle-infused sweet potatoes. The sour dried fruit provide a sharp surprise, like what you get from the second dip in the track before a roller coaster starts to climb again to its next peak. It all ends in a pool of surprising chocolate sauce with undertones of heat and citrus, after which you’re excited enough to wait in the long line for another go. Note: I used 2 cups water with the 2 cups masa as the 1 cup water called for was way too little. The 2 cups and an hour steaming worked just fine. —cheese1227

What You'll Need
  • Tamales
  • 15 dried corn husks (2 oz, or 1/4 package)
  • 2 cups masa harina for tamales
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup butter or vegetable shortening, room temperature (may need more)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle-flavored pepper sauce
  • 1/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • Sauce
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles (about 1.5 oz)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground canela or cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle-flavored pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  1. Soak corn husks in large bowl of hot water for 1/2 hour, then separate and continue to soak until pliable, up to 1/2 hour more. Tear one or two husks into 1/4-inch wide strips to use for tying the tamales. Boil 1 cup water in medium saucepan. Remove from heat and gradually stir in masa. Cover and let cool until room temperature [may be done 1 day in advance; store in covered container in fridge. Bring to room temperature before using.]. Combine 1/3 cup water, syrup, and small pinch salt in small saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Take pan off heat and stir in coconut; cool to room temperature. In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, cream butter or shortening with baking powder. Add masa and coconut mixtures, and beat until dough is smooth, fluffy, and light. If dough appears to be too dry and crumbly, add more butter or shortening in 1-tablespoon increments. If it appears to be too wet, add additional masa by tablespoonfuls.
  2. In medium mixing bowl, stir together sweet potato, cream, butter and pepper sauce.
  3. Arrange steamer rack in very large stockpot and add water to just below bottom of rack; do not allow water to touch bottom of steam rack. Cover and bring water to boil. Place 12 drained corn husks on work surface. Put 3 to 4 tablespoons masa dough into center of one husk. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons sweet potato mixture on top of masa and sprinkle some dried cranberries on top. Fold long sides over filling, then tie ends of tamale shut with husk strips. Repeat process to make 12 tamales. Place upright, leaning against one another, in steamer. If necessary, insert pieces of crumpled foil between tamales to keep them upright. Cover and steam until dough is firm to touch and separates easily from husk, adding more water to pot as necessary, about 1 hour.
  4. While tamales are steaming, prepare sauce. Wipe guajillo chiles clean with a damp cloth, then slice off stem ends and remove seeds. Preheat large skillet over medium heat, then toast chiles, turning frequently, until fragrant and beginning to darken, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl, cover with boiling water, and soak 20 minutes. Drain guajillo chilies and combine in blender with cloves, canela, orange zest and juice. Blend until very smooth.
  5. Place chocolate and cream in top of a double-boiler and melt over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in guajillo-orange mixture, pepper sauce and maple syrup. Return to medium heat and gently warm for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Serve tamales with sauce passed separately. To eat tamales, unwrap and remove from corn husk, drizzle with sauce, and enjoy!
  7. Tips: • Dried corn husks can be found in the Latin/international and/or produce food aisles of most large grocery stores. • Masa harina, also called corn flour or instant corn masa mix for tamales, is corn that has been treated with lime and water then ground and dried. My preference is the Maseca brand. If you buy Quaker masa [the most common brand available in the U.S.], be sure to buy the "Masa Harina de Maiz," NOT the "Harina Preparada Para Tortillas." Regular corn meal can not be substituted for masa. Canela, also called true, Mexican, Ceylon, or Sri Lankan cinnamon, is a less pungent variety than the cassia cinnamon commonly used in the U.S. • Guajillos are large, dark-red chiles with a nutty flavor and not too much heat.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • gr8chefmb
  • cheese1227
  • Kayb
  • dymnyno

5 Reviews

judy December 18, 2018
I make a sweet tamales as well. Use pineapple juice for liquid, and add coconut and raisins as well as cinnamon. Tamales are certainly a labor of love--so time consuming and so delicious. Please note that they freeze very well. This version looks good; the sweet potatoes are an interesting ingredient. Seems to me they would make tamales dense and heavy, even with the baking powder. Will consider these for New Years. I usually make AFTER Christmas as pre-Christmas is too busy, and I never think about making them before Thanksgiving, even though they freeze well. But then I make so many that they last well into February.
gr8chefmb December 31, 2010
To CHEESE1227: Masa dough is kind of like biscuit dough or pie crust; you have to adjust it as necessary. The masa needs to be kind of moist. I live in a humid area, so I don't need as much water. Also, you will be adding butter or shortening to the dough, and I did note that you may need to add more. Hope this helps! :-)
cheese1227 December 20, 2010
Testing this recipe right now. Does it really require 2 cups of masa to one cup of water? I've added one thus far and it seems very dry already.
Kayb December 7, 2010
Oh, wow. These sound wonderful!
dymnyno December 6, 2010
I am so glad that you submitted this recipe...I have been looking for a great sweet tamale for a long time!