Sweet Raisin Tamales


about 1 dozen

Updated: Sep. 23, 2022
I recreated this dessert tamale based on one Grandma made just for us kids.—Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack, Highlands Ranch, Colorado


  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 8 ounces piloncillo or 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • TAMALE MASA (dough):
  • 1/2 pound lard
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound fresh ground masa (unprepared) for tamales
  • 1/2 cup piloncillo syrup
  • 3/4 cup raisins (soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained)
  • About 12 corn husks (ojas)


  2. Bring water with cinnamon stick and cloves to a boil; remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 1/2 hour. On low heat, add the piloncillo and let melt. Remove from heat, cover, and let cool. Discard cinnamon stick and cloves.
  4. Place lard in a large stand mixer with a flat beater and mix until fluffy, scraping sides so the lard stays in the center of the mixing bowl. Add the baking powder and salt and mix all together.
  5. Add the masa and mix until combined. Slowly add the cooled syrup and fold the raisins into the masa mixture until combined.
  7. Soak corn husks in water for an hour before using. Rinse well with running water to take off any dust or corn husk fibers. To keep corn husks pliable and easy to work with, keep in water while filling tamales. Place a handful of wet corn husks in a colander to drain before using.
  9. Place the wide end of the husk on the palm of your hand. The narrow end is at the top. Starting at the middle of the husk, with the back of a spoon, spread 2 tablespoons of the masa in a rectangle or oval shape, using a downward motion toward the wide-bottom edge. Do not spread the masa to the ends; leave about a 2-inch border on the left and right sides of the husk.
  11. Fold both sides to the center; finish off by bringing the pointed end of the husk toward the filled end. Make sure it’s a snug closure so the tamale will not open during steaming. Secure by tying a thin strip of corn husk around the tamale. This will keep the tamale from unwrapping during the steaming process, especially if the husk is too thick and will not stay folded.
  13. Use a deep pot or tamale steamer to steam the tamales. If using a tamale steamer, fill with water up to the fill line. Set the tamale rack over the water. Place tamales upright with folds against the sides of the other tamales to keep them from unfolding. Cover pot with a tight fitting lid. Set heat on high and bring to a boil, about 15 minutes. Lower heat and simmer for 1 to 1½ hours. Keep lid on tightly. To test for doneness, place one tamale on a plate and take off the corn husk. If it comes off without sticking to the tamale, they’re done.

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