Pineapple, Pecan and Coconut-Rum Tamales

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 40 min
  • Prep: 1 hr 40 min
  • Cook: 1 hr
  • Yield: 18 tamales
Who can resist caramelized pineapples nestled in a cinnamon-vanilla masa dough? While this Mexican favorite is typically made savory, this dish is proof that the sweet version can be every bit as beloved.



  1. Soak the corn husks in a bowl of hot water, using a plate to keep them submerged, until pliable, 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dough: Mix the masa harina and 1 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 10 tablespoons butter and 3/4 cup warm water and mix with the paddle attachment until combined. Add the granulated sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, the almond and vanilla extracts and ground cinnamon; mix until combined, about 1 more minute. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. Make the filling: Simmer 1/2 cup water and the cinnamon stick in a saucepan until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar and cook, stirring to dissolve, about 1 minute. Add the pineapple, honey and cinnamon water, including the cinnamon stick; cook, stirring, until the mixture is almost dry, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the rum, then return to medium heat. Tilt the pan so the rum ignites (or hold a lit match near the sauce to ignite it). Cook until the pineapple is slightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pecans; set aside to cool.
  5. Drain the husks and pat dry. Tear each husk lengthwise into a 3 1/2-inch-wide piece. Tear some of the excess husks into 18 thin strips for ties; reserve the husk scraps. Lay the 3 1/2-inch-wide husks on a clean surface. Starting 1/2 inch from the wide end, spread 1 tablespoon of the dough down a husk, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the sides. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the pineapple filling down the center of the dough. Roll lengthwise into a tight cylinder. Fold up the narrow end; tie with a strip of corn husk to secure. Repeat with the remaining husks, dough and filling.
  6. Set a steamer basket in a large pot filled with 1 to 2 inches of water. Set a small bowl upside down in the basket, then arrange the tamales standing up in the steamer, folded-side down, leaning against the bowl. Cover with husk scraps, then lay a damp kitchen towel on top. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, cover and steam until the tamales pull away from the husks, about 40 minutes. Remove from the steamer and let cool slightly before unwrapping.