I've made and eaten my fair share of tamales and these are the best sweet tamales I have ever eaten! This is an Emeril Lagasse recipe and has become a new family tradition. My DBF suggested that next year we only make these and skip the pork tamales! I didn't use the banana leaves but instead soaked about 40 corn husks in warm water for 1/2 an hour and used those.
- If using corn husks, soak in warm water for a 1/2 hour until pliable and then drain. If using banana leaves, Defrost the banana leaves overnight in the refrigerator if frozen, and cut off any hard sections or sections with holes. Cut the leaves into unbroken 12 inch pieces. If the leaves are pliable, proceed with the recipe. If not steam the banana leaves in the top of a double boiler until soft and pliable, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside until ready to assemble the tamales.
- In a small saucepan gently heat the rum. Place the raisins in a small bowl and cover with the warm rum. Let the raisins soak and absorb the rum while you prepare the masa.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the vegetable shortening until very light, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and half of the masa and beat until combined. Mix the milk and coconut milk and add alternately with the remaining masa in several batches to the mixture until the mixture is the consistency of medium-thick cake batter. Add baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, and beat for 30 more seconds. Add the melted butter and beat to incorporate, being careful not to overmix.
- Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the masa batter into the center of a banana leaf. Place about 2 teaspoons of the plumped raisins in the center. Fold 1 side over the batter and then the other to enclose the filling. Bring the bottom and the top over the filling to create a package. Tie the tamale with a piece of string, and repeat with the remaining masa batter and filling.
- If using corn husks spoon about 2 tablespoons masa down the center of the husk and then about a tsp of raisins. Fold both sides over the masa and then fold up the bottom. (Please refer to the photos for guidance).
- Line an insert steamer with a layer of unused banana leaves. Lay the tamales in the lined steamer, and steam over simmering water until the tamales are cooked through and release easily from the banana leaf wrappers about 1 1/2 hours.