These tamales are soft, tender packets of ground corn, filled with sweet strawberry jam. Sweet tamales are very common and Mexico and this is a great introduction to them. The aroma of the tamales steaming is irresistible, and I like to serve them with a mug of Mexican hot chocolate or atole.
Why This Recipe Works
Sweet tamales are as popular in my house as savory ones. They are delicious as a dessert, breakfast, or a merienda (snack) with some atole and friends. They are both vegan and gluten-free!
During the 1870s, tamales became a symbol of Mexican culture and some people in the United States did not like what they represented. There were efforts to place bans on the sale of tamales in Los Angeles, CA, and San Antonio, but everything changed when the tamal was presented to the public at the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair. After that, the tamal exploded into popularity in all of the metropolitan cities in the U.S.
Sweet tamales were just as prevalent in Pre-Columbian Mexico as savory ones. The Mexicas offered up different tamales for each of their different gods. Sweet tamales were offered to the god of life, death, and rebirth, Xipe Totec (zshi-pe toe-tek) or also known as The Night Drinker.
Masa Harina: Masa harina is corn flour that is made from ground field corn treated through a process called nixtamalization. In Mexico it is sometimes referred to as Maseca, which is the name of the most popular brand of corn flour there, However, I recommend you use Masabrosa or Masienda corn flour which are both free of GMO's.
Corn Husks: Dried corn husks are the primary vehicle for the tamales to be steamed and served. They are not edible but are readily available online or in most Mexican grocery stores.
Vegan Butter: Plant-based butter is a nondairy butter substitute that combines water with plant-derived oils, like avocado, coconut, palm, olive, or a combination of oils. I like to use Earth Balance, but if you want to make these without oil you can use 8 oz of unsweetened pumpkin puree.
How to Make Strawberry Tamales
- Place the strawberries and milk in the blender.
- Puree until completely smooth.
- Combine the vegan butter and sugar in the mixer.
- Beat the butter and sugar until the butter has doubled in size and is nice and fluffy.
5. Add half of the masa harina, baking powder, and salt to mixer and beat to incorporate.
6. Add half of the strawberry milk and beat again.
7. Repeat this process with the rest of the strawberry milk and masa harina. Add a couple drops of food coloring.
8. Beat until the masa is bright pink and the consistency of a thick cake batter.
9. Spread the masa on corn husks that have been previously soaked.
10. Place the strawberry jam in the center of the husk.
11. Fold the husk so the edges touch and fold over the filling.
12. Pour water in your steamer, add steamer insert and arrange your tamales. Steam for 40 minutes, or until the husk separates easily from the masa remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
Tips and Tricks
If you would like to make these with fresh masa, replace the masa harina with 2 lbs. of fresh masa and use only 1 cup of almond milk. To substitute the fat you can use 8 oz. of coconut oil. For tamales without fat, substitute with 8 oz of cooked, unsweetened pumpkin.
Remove from the husks and serve warm right after steaming. For an extra decadent treat serve with vegan whipped cream.
Store tamales in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 days or store in the freezer for up to 6 months. To reheat them steam them again from frozen for about 10 minutes, place them in the microwave or place them right on a hot comal or skillet.
Tamales are steamed for 40 - 45 minutes or until the husk separates easily from the masa. They will still be very soft, so you might think they are not done, but they will firm up as they cool.
No, the corn husk is simply the wrapper for the tamales. Remove the husk and eat the tamal.
More Tamales Recipes
I also have recipes for chocolate tamales, potato adobo tamales, red chile jackfruit tamales, jalapeño and cheese tamales, and you can find more than 18 different tamales recipes both savory and sweet in my ebook Vegan Tamales Unwrapped.
- 2 cups Strawberries cut into chunks
- 2 cups Almond milk warm
- 1 cup Vegan Butter room temperature, 8 oz.
- ½ cup Sugar granulated
- 1.5 tsp. Baking powder
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 4 cups Masa harina 1 lb. 2oz
- 1 cup Water warm
- 1 ½ cup Strawberry jam
- 30 Corn husks
- Soak the corn husks in hot water, in a large pot or in your kitchen sink. Place a plate over them to weigh them down so they are completely submerged. Let them soak for at least an hour.
- Blend the 2 cups of almond milk and 1 cup of the strawberries until smooth.
- To make the dough: beat the butter and sugar, on medium-high speed, with an electric mixer, until the butter has doubled in size and is nice and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the baking powder and salt, and beat for 1 minute to incorporate into the butter.
- Add half of the masa harina then add the strawberry almond milk. After it is completely incorporated, add the other half of the masa harina and the water. Add the remaining cup of chopped strawberries, and beat at low speed, until thoroughly mixed. It should have the consistency of a thick cake batter. If necessary add more water until you reach that consistency.
- For lighter and fluffier tamales, let the dough rest for an hour in the refrigerator. Remove the dough from the fridge and rebeat it, adding enough liquid to get it to the consistency it had before.
- Remove the corn husks from the water and set on paper towels. Reserve the largest husks to wrap the tamales and the small ones to line the steamer.
- To set up your steamer, fill the bottom with water making sure the water is not touching the steamer rack. Line the rack and sides of the steamer pot with corn husks. Set aside.
- Pull 24 pencil thin strips off of the corn husks and set aside. Take a husk and dry off the excess water on it with a paper towel. Place the husk in your hand with the tapered side away from you and the smooth side up. Using a spoon, spread 2-3 tbsp. of the dough (¼ inch thick) onto the corn husk, forming a 3 - 4 inch square. Leave a border of at least 3/4 inch on each side of the square.
- Place 1 tbsp. of strawberry jam in the center of the dough. Bring the two long sides of the corn husk together, this will cause the masa to surround the jam, and roll them in the same direction around the tamal. (If the husk is too small, fold one of the long sides towards the center, and then fold the other long side on top.) Fold down the empty tapered section of the corn husk, forming a closed bottom. This will leave the top of the tamal open. Tie with a corn husk strip to secure the bottom of the tamal.
- Place the tamale in the steamer vertically leaning against the side of the steamer, with the open end on top. Repeat this process until you run out of dough and all the tamales are in the steamer. Cover them with a layer of corn husks. If the steamer is not full, fill the empty spaces with more corn husks. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and cook for 40 minutes. Check the tamales, when they separate easily from the corn husk it means they are done. If they are not done, steam for 10 more minutes and check again.
- Remove steamer from the heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and let cool for at least an hour. Don’t be alarmed if the tamales seem really soft. As they cool, they will firm up.
Although dorastable.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates.