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Pitch-Black Dessert Tamales Are The Treat YOU Want For Dia De Los Muertos

Pitch-Black Dessert Tamales Are The Treat YOU Want For Dia De Los Muertos

It’s tradition on Dia De Los Muertos to place ofrendas, or offerings, on altars so that deceased ancestors will come back and visit their families. Tamales, in both sweet and savory form, are one of the most common foods used as an ofrenda, making these dessert tamales a colorful and tasty offering for both eating and placing on the family altar.

This version of a dessert tamal evokes the colors and tastes of fall, utilizing both orange and white sweet potatoes as the chief components of the filling.

For an extra hit of sweetness, OREOs are incorporated into both the masa and creamy interior. Activated coconut charcoal also gives the masa a deep black hue, making the tamales as vibrant as they are flavorful.

You can get all of the ingredients to make these dessert tamales at Northgate Market, who will be launching a holiday cookbook with this recipe and more in early December. If you want to make the tamales before then, though, the full recipe is below.

Servings: 15


25 corn husks

26 Oreo cookies, just the cookie

2 1/2 pounds plain masa

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 ½ Tbsp activated coconut charcoal

¼ cup evaporated milk

For the orange filling

Creamy filling of 26 Oreo cookies

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 egg

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

For the white filling

Creamy filling of 26 oreo cookies

1 pound white sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 egg

10 tablespoons powdered sugar

For the drizzle topping

1 bottle Cacique Crema Mexicana

1 cup powdered sugar


Step 1

Combine corn husks and enough water to cover in a large bowl. Soak overnight.


Step 2

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add sweet potatoes and cook for 25-30 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.



Step 3

Separate each Oreo cookie, scrape off creamy filling and place in a separate bowl. Place cookies in a food processor and process until a small crumble texture (about 1 ½ cups of crumbled cookie). Set creamy filling aside.


Step 4

Place masa in a large bowl. Add evaporated milk and mix with a hand held mixer on a slow setting. Add cookie crumbles in ½ cup increments, add charcoal in tablespoons increments, add sugar in increments as well. Continue mixing until color is evenly distributed.  


Step 5

In another large bowl, combine creamy filling, egg, cream cheese, brown sugar, and sweet potatoes. Mix with a whisk or electric mixer until all ingredients are completely incorporated. Repeat this step with the white sweet potato mixture.


Step 6

Drain corn husks and pat dry. On a working surface, place husk with pointy side towards you.  Scoop ½ cup masa mixture on husk and spread with a spoon or masa spreader, leaving a 1 ½ inch border on the sides, place 2 tablespoons sweet potato mixture on the center. Fold one side of corn husk over filling then fold the other side, overlapping. Fold the pointed side up and turn over to keep it from unfolding. Use a piece of corn husk to tie if necessary. Repeat with remaining corn husks.


Step 7

Arrange tamales upright in a steamer. Fill with hot water right below the rack and heat over medium heat. Cover top of tamales with a layer of remaining husks and a damp towel; cover with lid, bring to a boil and reduce to medium, adding water as needed. Steam for 90 minutes. Remove tamales from steaming. Let cool before serving.       


Step 8

Optional: to make a creamy drizzle topping, add powdered sugar to crema mexicana and drizzle on tamales.


Created in partnership with Northgate Markets. 

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