Dec 21, 2011 4:58 PM by David Ortiviz

Meatless tamales, a sweet spin for your taste buds

For a lot of Southern Colorado families it's just not christmas without a savory plate of tamales smothered in chile. Typically the Latin American entree is filled with meat, but we found a twist on this popular dish: sweet tamales!

Hand-made tamales, but these don't have any pork. Instead they're loaded with sweets: walnuts, raisins and a lot of sugar. "This is what will make our masa sweet," said George Torres, owner of El Nopal restaurant in Pueblo.

Torres learned the recipe from his grandma. His family has been making sweet tamales at El Nopal, a family owned restaurant, for half a century.

"Since I was a little kid, I just remember sweet tamales every year," said Torres.

Like traditional tamales, they grind corn to make a dough called masa. But here's the twist, they add cinnamon, vegetable oil, buttermilk and all those tasty sweets.

As Torres showed us, you scoop a dollop inside a corn husk, wrap them and steam them for two hours.

Torres says they've also tried making sweet tamales with strawberries, blueberries and coconut, but his grandma's original recipe has stood the test of time. They'll make up to a thousand in the days leading up to Christmas. Torres says they're one of a handful of places you can find them in Colorado. "They're far and few between, they're really hard to find. So we do have several people that drive down from Denver every Christmas to pick up sweet tamales as well," said Torres.

Torres say they're good hot or cold, but skip the chile--these are strictly for dessert.

"One of my favorite things about the holidays," said Torres.

El Nopal only makes sweet tamales once a year. They're taking orders until Friday. The restaurant is located at 14345 E. Evans Ave. They can be reached at 719-564-9784.


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