A yellow, brown and pink plate with chocolate tamales on a green table
Photography, Alicia Taylor

Chocolate Tamales

The 'Tamale Queen' shares her recipe for a dessert version of the classic Mexican dish.

Sometimes the dishes you miss the most open up new creative pathways. That was the case for me with tamales. When I moved to Australia, I had to learn how to make them – and make them to the point of perfection! I am proud to be called the Tamale Queen because these are now my signature – and favourite – dish at my restaurants. After such an extensive chapter of tamales in my first cookbook, Comida Mexicana, I decided just to add this dessert version here (perfect if you ever need a gluten-free dessert). I’m using Mexican chocolate here, but you can use any other chocolate powder mixed with water … after all, cacao beans are originally from Mexico! –Rosa Cienfuegos 

CDMX: The Food of Mexico City is on sale October 10.
A yellow, brown and pink plate with chocolate tamales on a green table

Chocolate Tamales

Rosa Cienfuegos's recipe for chocolate dessert tamales, from her cookbook CDMX: The Food of Mexico City
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Australian, Mexican
Servings 10 tamales


  • 20 sweetcorn husks
  • oz Mexican chocolate shaved
  • 7 oz pork lard
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups superfine sugar
  • 4 cups + 2 tbsp masa flour
  • ½ cup + 3 tbsp chocolate hazelnut spread such as Nutella


  • Soften the sweetcorn husks in warm water, then drain and squeeze the husks to remove any excess water.
  • Place the chocolate in a bowl and add 400 ml of warm water. Set aside for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the chocolate dissolves.
  • Place the lard, baking powder and sugar in a bowl and whip the mixture as fast as possible using a wooden spoon – the lard needs to soften and look spongy. Don’t stress if this takes a long time; it can take up to 15 minutes to achieve the right consistency. Add the flour and watery chocolate and mix until well combined.
  • Spread 3½ oz of the dough in the middle of a damp sweetcorn husk, leaving a 1¼ in border around the edge. Spoon 1 tbsp of the hazelnut spread on top, then cover with another 3½ oz of dough. Place another sweetcorn husk over the filling, then wrap up the tamale by overlapping the sides and folding over the top and bottom edges towards the centre to enclose the filling. Secure the ends with kitchen string and set aside. Repeat to make 10 tamales.
  • Stand the tamales upright in a large steamer, but don’t pack them in too tightly or they might burst. Place the steamer over a saucepan of simmering water and steam for 1 hour or until the husks peel away easily. Allow the tamales to cool for 15 minutes, then unwrap and serve.

A cookbook cover in a light tan frame

Extracted from CDMX: The Food of Mexico City by Rosa Cienfuegos, published by Smith Street Books (CAN $55).
Share this article: