These sweet raisin tamales soaked in a piloncillo and canela syrup are perfect as a sweet holiday treat! A tamal, swaddled in a corn husk, is the heart of all things Mexican. Opening one is like opening an intimate secret, a gift.
3/4cupraisinssoaked in water for 30 minutes, and drained.
Bring water with cinnamon stick, and cloves to a boil; remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 1/2 hour. Add piloncillo, on low heat, let the piloncillo melt. Remove from the heat, cover, and let cool.
Place lard in a large stand mixer and mix until fluffy, scraping sides so the lard stays in the center of the mixing bowl. (The flat beater is the ideal accessory for mixing.) Add the baking powder and the salt to the lard and mix together.
Add the masa and mix together. Slowly add the cooled syrup and raisins and fold into the masa and mix until combined.
Use a deep pot or tamal steamer to steam tamales. If using a tamal steamer fill with water up to the fill line. Set the tamal rack over the water. Place tamales upright, with fold against the sides of the other tamales to keep them from unfolding. Cover pot with a tightly fitting lid. Set heat on high and bring to a boil, about 15 minutes. Lower heat and simmer for 1 to 1½ hours. Keep lid on tightly. To test if done, put one tamal on a plate and take off the corn husk. If it comes off without sticking to the tamal they are done.
You can use cranberries instead of raisins if you prefer.