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Sweet Potato Tamales with Pecan Butter

Serves: 8

Pecan Butter
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
3 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Scrape into a ramekin and refrigerate until solid, about 2 hours. 

Sweet Potato Tamales
20 dried corn husks

24 dried corn husks
4 cups fresh corn kernels
1 small red onion, chopped
1 ½ cups water
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon shortening, melted
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
4 ounces yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Two hours before you form the tamales, clean the husks under running water. Soak them in warm water for 2 hours, or until softened.
2. Puree the corn, onion, and water in a food processor. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and stir in the butter, shortening and pumpkin puree. Using a large rubber spatula, mix in the cornmeal, spices, maple syrup, honey and salt and pepper until combined. The mixture will be a lot looser than you think it should be, but when the tamales are steamed it will dry out.
3. Remove the corn husks from the water and set aside the best 20 husks. Drain and pat dry. Tear the remaining husks into 1-inch wide strips to be used for tying. lay 2 husks flat on a work surface with the tapered ends facing out and the broad bases overlapping by about 3 inches. Place about 1/3 cup of masa mixture in the center. Bring the long sides up over the masa, slightly overlapping, and pat down to close. (If the masa drips out a little at the seam, that is no problem.) Tie each end of the bundle with a strip of corn husk, pushing the filling toward the middle as you tie. Trim the ends to about 1/2 inch beyond the tie. 
3. Arrange the tamales in a single layer on a steaming rack, cover tightly with foil, and steam over boiling water for 45 minutes. To Serve: slice a slit on top of each tamale and push both ends of the tamale toward the middle to expose the masa. Top each with a heaping tablespoon of pecan butter. 

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