The filling for these sweet holiday tamales is mixed right in with the dough.
1/2 cup chilled butter
1/2 cup chilled lard or vegetable shortening
4 cups (2 pounds) dried masa harina for tamales
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup chopped pecans or pecan quarters (halves broken lengthwise)
1 package dried corn shucks
Using an electric mixer, beat butter and lard together until fluffy. In another bowl, mix together masa harina, baking powder, salt, and sugar; add 4 cups warm water, stirring until the texture becomes like a medium-pliable bread dough. Add the masa mixture in batches to the lard-butter mixture, beating until light in texture. Fold in cranberries and pecans. Make into tamales and steam until husk comes away cleanly from masa, about 2 hours. Makes 4 dozen tamales.