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Sweet Potato, Raisin and Pecan Tamales

Makes about 2 dozen
Time 2 hr 45 min
Gently sweet and filling, these spiced sweet potato tamales can serve as either a vegetarian main course or a dessert. Corn husks vary in size and thickness, so a 6-ounce package (roughly 40) will give you enough to pick and choose from.
Ingredients
  • 3 large sweet potatoes (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 (6.0-ounce) package dried corn husks
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 cups instant corn masa flour such as Maseca
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth warmed
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup coconut oil melted
Method

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork, place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast until very tender, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, gently pull apart corn husks and arrange in a large, heatproof bowl. Pour over a generous amount of boiling water, rest a plate on top to keep the husks submerged and let soften for 1 hour. When sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them, transfer to a large bowl and mash until almost smooth. Stir in raisins, pecans, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside filling.   

In a separate large bowl, use your hands to mix together flour, broth, baking powder and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Add oil and mix again until well combined. Set aside dough.   

Rinse and drain husks and pat dry. (Discard any corn silk or husks with dark spots.) Place on a large plate and cover with a damp towel.   

To form each tamale, place a husk on a work surface, with the smooth side up and the narrow end closest to you. Using your fingers, press a scant 1/4 cup dough over the husk to make a 1/4-inch-thick layer, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border at the bottom. (The size of the husks can vary greatly. Choose larger ones, pressing dough all the way to the top and then out to the sides as much as possible.) Spoon about 2 tablespoons filling down the center. (Enjoy any remaining filling as a cook’s treat.) Fold in the left side, fold up the bottom, and then roll the tamale closed. Transfer to a large platter, seam-side down. (If you like, tear a few husks into thin strips and use them to tie each tamale closed with a knot before placing them on the platter.)   

Arrange a steamer basket in the bottom of a large, wide pot and fill with 1 inch of water. Working in batches if needed, stand or prop tamales in the basket, open ends facing up, cover the pot and bring water to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and steam until dough is firm and pulls away from the edges of husks, about 45 minutes. (Replenish hot water in the pot as tamales cook, making sure the level is never high enough to touch the tamales.) Transfer to a platter, let sit for 15 minutes and then serve.

Note: We've provided special diet and nutritional information for educational purposes. But remember - we're cooks, not doctors! You should follow the advice of your health-care provider. And since product formulations change, check product labels for the most recent ingredient information.
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  • 3 large sweet potatoes (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 (6.0-ounce) package dried corn husks
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 cups instant corn masa flour such as Maseca
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth warmed
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup coconut oil melted