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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. 

12 Foods You’ve Got to Try When You’re in California

12 Foods You’ve Got to Try When You’re in California

Everything tastes better in California. Why is that? Other states try to replicate the flavor and creativity that goes into the popular cuisines you’ll find in California, but it simply isn’t the same. We’re going to chalk it up to the pure energy and love that California chefs put into their food. Whatever it is, there are 12 foods that you absolutely MUST try when you’re in California.


We know, we sound like a broken record. But seriously, if you go to California and don’t eat In-N-Out, you’re truly missing out on a Californian classic. A popular food icon of California, In-N-Out never disappoints. Be sure to order your burgers and fried “animal style”. You can thank us later. * wink*

California Donuts

Taking a traditional baked treat and elevating it to the extraordinary, California Donuts creates artistically inspired delectable donuts topped with really fun and sugary toppings like fruity pebbles, candies, and more.

REAL Mexican Food

Hands-down, California has the most authentic Mexican food around. Situated just north of the Mexican border, California is proud to have a large population of Mexican-Americans and Mexican immigrants who bring with them traditional Mexican recipes and cuisine. It doesn’t get more authentic and delicious than that!

California Rolls

Who doesn’t love some good sushi right? Well, dedicated to the fresh lifestyle of the coastal state, the California roll is a popular choice nationwide – comprised of crab, cucumber, avocado (of course), rolled in nori and sushi rice and topped with sesame seeds.

Fish Tacos

Fish tacos are a delicacy and a total favorite amongst true Californians. You can find mouth-watering variations of this seaside dish for sale in restaurants, food trucks, and at food vendor events all throughout the state.


Cultural foods are a symbol of Californian cuisine that celebrate the cultural diversity of the great state. A true melting pot, California is known for more than its awesome Mexican food. Great food from every culture can be found locally just about anywhere you visit in California. Vietnamese Pho is amongst the most popular cultural foods consumed by Californians – and for good reason. The dish is a truly delicious comfort food – bringing together people from all backgrounds to enjoy a great meal.

Green Smoothies

Californians are famous for their health food trends. Green smoothies definitely top the lists of health-conscious Californians. Next time you’re visiting or looking for a light lunch or snack, stop by a local smoothie bar like Moon Juice, and enjoy a nutrition packed green smoothie.

Disneyland Churros

Everything is more magical at Disneyland. Maybe that’s why their churros are so darn good. We’re not sure. But if you find yourself at Disneyland California, don’t leave without trying one, or two, of their delicious churros.

Avocado Toast

Obsessed much? Yeah, we are. Avocados are a staple of hungry Californians. Packed with antioxidants, and healthy fats, avocados and all of their creamy goodness are piled high, mixed with spices and that certain California flair atop a crusty freshly baked piece of toasted bread. Yum.


Haven’t heard of cioppino? You’re missing out! Cioppino is a flavorful Italian-inspired fish stew dish that was born right in the heart of San Fransisco, Califonia. The locals rave over it!


Tamales fall under Mexican food, but they truly deserve a mention of their own. Every year, Indio hosts the famous tamale festival. Vendors gather to offer the best, most authentic tamales money can buy while guests enjoy their food and partake in the festivities.

Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles

Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles is a well-known and thoroughly enjoyed hot spot for Southern comfort food. If you go, you obviously have to try the chicken and waffles – we recommend the Obama Special. How cool is that? If it’s good enough for Obama, it’s good enough for us!

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