Pumpkin Tamal? I remember the first time I heard of this! I was like, what? No way! I’m not sure I would like it! My good friend, Norma reached out to me asking for my help, as she was asked to develop a pumpkin tamal recipe a few years back. After giving her a few tips and she created a beautiful pumpkin tamal! I believe it was her first time preparing a sweet Mexican tamal. If I have to be honest, sweet tamales were never my favorite, but mom prepared a small batch every holiday season. Typically they were a sweet masa mixed with raisins and coconut. We never had pink strawberry tamales, but I di dive in and prepare that recipe a few years ago. Find it here!
And The Crowd Loved It!
Overall, the response to the pumpkin tamal on social media has been favorable. Of course, there is always going to be those few individuals who will express their negative comments about the recipe and that’s ok. Not every recipe is for every person. My thoughts are that I love, love, love traditional Mexican recipes, but I also enjoy getting in my kitchen and getting creative. How will you ever discover and develop new recipes if you never step outside the box. Coloring outside the lines is ok! Lol! The moral of the story is that I tell you all over and over again, is to make the recipe your own unique creation.
What If I Don’t Make The Pumpkin Filling From Scratch?
No worries! Of course I will always encourage you to try and prepare everything from scratch, sometimes we have to take shortcuts. Mom used to take this shortcut sometimes when preparing here relleno(filling) for empanadas. Go to the notes section at the bottom of the recipe to read how to prepare el relleno using pumpkin puree from a can.
Before….. Pumpkin in Piloncillo Syrup. Calabaza En Tacha.
After…… Pumpkin Filling For Empanadas, For Pumpkin Bread Conchas and For Sweet Tamales!
Butter, Shortening, Oil or Lard?
Butter is used most often when it comes to preparing sweet tamales. In my opinion, I feel like the masa needs the fat from shortening, lard or oil to achieve a better texture and more moist masa in the end. The butter evaporates and doesn’t leave a lot of moisture in the tamal once steamed. Of course, you don’t want to use pork lard in the sweet tamales, but probably back in the day, that is what they used. Opt for the vegetable shortening instead. Oil works too, but it does not allow you to add as much volume to your masa when mixing. Either way, find what works best for you and get in your kitchen today! Pumpkin tamales are on the menu this fall season!
Unsalted Butter and Avocado Oil
Mixing In Masa Harina Corn Flour, Sweetened Condensed Milk, Pumpkin Spice and Pumpkin Filling
Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself And Rush The Mixing Process. Add One Ingredient At A Time And Mix Well.
How Many Tamales Does The Recipe Yield?
Well that really depends on you! I prefer smaller tamales when it comes to the sweet version. I tear down my softened corn husks to about 3- 3 1/2 inches wide. Spoon on a thin layer of prepared masa and fill, but don’t overstuff. This masa recipe yields up to 24-26 small tamales. I truly was pleasantly surprised on the flavor in the end. I couldn’t taste a lot of corn masa flavor, but did enjoy the pumpkin and spices. And that little hint of salt and sweet from the cream cheese was delicious!
To Wrap Or Not To Wrap?
Why do you use those deli sheets to wrap your tamales Sonia? I get that question a lot during tamal season. I started using the sheets years ago actually. My oldest sister, Kity(Cristela), prepared these huge chile verde cheese tamales years ago and would use the sheets to wrap her tamales. She was told it would help keep the cheese from melting out. One day I decided to wrap the pork tamales too. The results were the most beautifully shaped tamales that were so moist! Since I am photographing the tamal, well of course I want it to look nice too, lol! It’s not a must, but I like the results, plus it makes less mess in the tamalera(steamer pot). Find deli sheets in Mexican markets, near tamal supplies or in restaurant supply stores. Probably available online as well.
Let’s Get To The Recipe Already!
I found myself with no real fall decorations when I was getting ready to photograph these delicious pumpkin tamales. Improvise! An inexpensive fall kitchen towel, silk flowers from the dollar store, my Mexican clayware and a few decorative sugar skulls from my small collection. The tamal is the star after all! I would love to hear your feedback if you decide to prepare this recipe!
Mexican Cajeta(Caramel) and Chopped Pecans!
I couldn’t find the more traditional cajeta made from goats milk, but this was tasty too!
- 1 Steamer Pot
- Stand Mixer
- 1/2 c unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 c oil or vegetable shortening
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 c masa harina corn flour for tamales maseca brand
- 1 c sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tsps vanilla extract
- 3 tsps pumpkin spice
- 1 1/3 c previously prepared pumpkin filling
- 1/2 c evaporated milk or whole milk at room temperature
Cream Cheese Filling and Corn Husks
- 12 oz cream cheese
- 1 c previously prepared pumpkin filling
- 35-40 corn husks previously soaked in hot water to soften
- 24 deli paper sheets, optional
- To start, cover the corn husks with very hot water. Let them soak while you prepare the masa and other ingredients.
- In the stand mixer, cream the butter, then drizzle in the oil. On low speed, mix in the baking powder, salt and masa harina corn flour. If using shortening, cream together with butter.
- Mix in the sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin spice and vanilla. On low, mix in the pumpkin filling. Gradually mix in the evaporated milk. Mix on medium speed for 6-8 minutes or until masa looks fluffy. Cover and chill for 2 hours. This will allow the masa to become more flavorful.
- In a bowl, mix the cream cheese with pumpkin filling. Transfer to a plastic storage bag or piping bag and keep chilled until ready to use.
- When ready, prepare the softened corn husk, by tearing them to size, 24 corn husks 3 1/2 inches wide, more or less. Spoon on a layer of thin masa onto corn husk, halfway up the husk.
- To the center of the tamal, pipe in about 1 1/2 tbsps of cream cheese. Gently fold in the sides and then fold down the top flap. If using the deli sheets, wrap them tightly, as if you were wrapping an egg roll or burrito, lol!
- Add water to the steamer pot and insert the steamer. Place a few of the extra corn husks at the bottom of steamer pot. Arrange the tamales, open side up into the pot. Cover tamales with a few more softened corn husks.
- Steam on high at first until it begins to steam rapidly, Reduce heat slightly to medium. Keep a pot of reserved water on low heat on the back burner. Set timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, I like to carefully, pour in a little more hot water on one side of the steamer pot. My steamer pot is small, so it requires me to add more water. If you have a larger pot, you may be able to steam the for the complete hour without having to add more water. Better to be safe and not run out of water. Tamales steam for one hour, then remove from heat.
- Let them stand in covered pot for 20-30 minutes before serving. Remove paper and husk. Garnish with cajeta and pecans. Cool completely and store in an airtight bag or container refrigerated for 5-6 days.
1 large can pumpkin puree(not pie filling),about 4 cups
1 cup piloncillo or dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground anise
3 tablespoon butter Notes~ you could use pumpkin spice instead of the individual spices. Start with 1 tsp and taste as you go. Melt the butter, add the pumpkin, brown sugar(or piloncillo) and spices. Cook on low, stirring often, until it becomes really thick and darker in color. You want it to look almost like a paste. Taste for sugar and spices as it cooks down. I like to add spice to my taste, just add a tiny pinch at a time.