Sweet Tamales

5 cups Masa Harina
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup lard (no substitutes)
3 cups chicken stock, heated
2/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup raisins
3 ounces corn husks, rinsed and soaked in hot
    water for several hours to soften

Combine Masa Harina, salt, baking powder, cinnamon an sugar; set aside.

Place lard in large mixing bowl an beat at high speed with electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add masa mixture in 2 to 3 batches, alternately with warm (not hot) broth, beating constantly. Add nuts, mixing to distribute evenly through the dough. Dough should be soft, but pliable, not watery. To test dough, place a small piece in a cup of water. If the dough floats, it is the right consistency.

Pat corn husks dry. Wet your hands. Place a husk in the palm of one hand, and using the back of a spoon, spread about 2 tablespoons of the dough into a rectangle, starting at the wide end of the husk. Leave about 1 1/2 inches at the wide end of the husk and about 3 inches at the pointed end. Spread dough to within 3/4-inch of the sides. Fill with 1 teaspoon raisins. Roll sides of tamales to seal the filling. Fold over wide end to seal bottom. Place folded side down on cookie sheet. Repeat until dough and filling are used. You should have about 2 dozen.

Fill bottom of a large tamale steamer or large pot with a rack or colander in the bottom with water to depth of about 1 inch. Water should not touch the rack. Line rack with some of the remaining husks. Arrange tamales vertically, wide, folded end down, on rack. Tamales should be packed, but not crammed, so they will remain vertical. Cover tamales with more corn husks or a layer of clean dish towels to prevent the tamales from absorbing too much water. They should be steamed, not immersed. Cover pot with lid.

Bring water to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Ensure that water does not cook away during this time, adding more as needed. Check tamales for doneness. Tamales are done when the masa easily separates from the husk and the tamale retains its shape. If not done, continue steaming for up to 2 1/2 hours, or as needed. If necessary, cook tamales in batches, reserving tamales in refrigerator until ready to cook.

Cooked tamales may be refrigerated several days or frozen for several weeks. Reheat, wrapped tightly in foil, in a 300 degrees F oven, about 30 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen.

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