Prepare Bean Filling Put water in small pan, add anise and boil until reduced by half. Strain and reserve infusion.
If using pasilla de Oaxaca or dried chipotles, cover with boiling water and let soak until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain and remove stems. Canned chipotles need
Working in batches, if necessary, puree beans with chiles, garlic and anise infusion in blender or food processor fitted with steel blade.
Melt lard in heavy skillet or wide, shallow saucepan over high heat. When very hot, add bean puree, watching for splatters. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until liquid is evaporated. Season to taste with salt. Cool to room temperature. Assemble Tamales
Unfold banana leaves, being careful not to split them unnecessarily. Wipe with clean damp cloth and pat dry
With kitchen scissors, trim leaves into 12 to 14 rectangles, each about 14x11inches. Save some of the longer trimmings for ties.
Mix masa harina in a bowl or pot with enough warm stock to make soft but not sticky dough. Beat lard in separate large bowl on medium speed until very light and fluffy. Add masa harina mixture and pumpkin puree to lard little at time, beating on medium speed and scraping down as needed. Mixture should be as light as butter cream.
Beat in cinnamon, piloncillo and salt to taste.
Place 1 or 2 banana leaf rectangles flat on work space (or soaked corn husks). Tear off some long, thin strips from reserved banana leaf trimmings. Place 2/3 to 1 cup masa mixture in center of leaf and with spatula or fingers spread into 3x4x1/2-inch thick oval.
Place 1 heaping tablespoon Bean Filling in center of oval, Fold left and right edges of banana leaf toward center to meet, overlapping little to cover filling then fold top and bottom edges to center to make a neat, flat package about 4x5 inches. Fasten by tying with thin strip of banana leaf. Repeat with remaining banana leaves, masa and filling. Steam the tamales for 45 - 50 minutes.
Tamale Spreader Instructions
I have to admit I was a bit skeptical of using this tamale masa spreader gadget for spreading masa. But after struggling with a spoon I gave this a try and now "I'm a believer"!
Pick up ½ cup of masa dough with front of spreader.
Place on husk and press to the angle of the spreader
Slide towards the bottom of the husk until the entire husk is covered.
The spreader works best with soft, warm, masa
Use the large smooth surface to spread.
For thicker masa use more masa and less pressure.