20 to 25 large or 30 to 40 smaller dried corn husks
3 cups water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon aniseed, divided
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 pound lard (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) or shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar or to taste
1 1/2 pounds tamale dough
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely broken (optional)
Place corn husks in a large bowl, cover with boiling water, and soak for at least 1 hour.
Bring 3 cups water and 1 tablespoon aniseed to a boil over high heat. Cook until reduced to 2 cups, about 15 minutes.
Strain and use 1 cup of anise tea to soak the raisins until softened, about 15 minutes. Set aside the remaining cup of tea.
Beat lard or shortening and sugar with an electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed and add tamale dough mixture a little at a time. When all is added, beat for 3 minutes.
Drain raisins and add to tamale dough mixture. Reserve drained liquid to use for steaming. Beat for 1 minute. If tamale dough mixture is stiff add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the reserved anise tea a little at a time while beating. Add remaining aniseed and salt, and beat until light and fluffy. Fold in pecans.
Drain corn husks. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling in each husk, wrap and steam the tamales (see instructions).
Optional: Add extra anise tea and raisin-soaking liquid to the water in the steamer. Makes about 20 large or 30 small tamales.