Capirotada is a traditional Mexican bread pudding typically served during lent. However, my mami made it around the holidays and a lot of times it was our Christmas dessert. It was always perfect with a nice little cafecito, (coffee), or a glass of milk. This Capirotada will forever and always remind me of my mami. It’s amazing how the smells of the cinnamon infusing in the syrup and the first bite of this dessert can bring back so many memories. I live for the recipes and dishes that take me back to my childhood and make me think back to so many great times spent with my family.
This Capirotada is not your typical or traditional bread pudding. It’s not make with any kind of custard base, no cream or eggs are used to bind it together. It is seriously so easy to make and the cinnamon flavor from the syrup screams holidays. Traditionally piloncillo is used to make the syrup along with some cinnamon sticks. What is piloncillo? Let’s talk a little more about this.
Piloncillo is made from unrefined can sugar that has been molded into a cone. This cone is rock solid and may be a little intimidating to work with. You can find piloncillo at most, if not all, Mexican markets or grocery stores. You can also find it online here or even at Walmart where you can order it online as well. It is not the same as brown sugar because brown sugar is refined sugar with a little added molasses for the color. With that said, you can absolutely substitute brown sugar for piloncillo and make a delicious Capirotada with it. Piloncillo can be grated, chopped, or simply melt it. Sometimes it is really hard to chop it, and please be very careful if you do, so putting it in the microwave for a few seconds may help soften it. If you want to use it to sweeten coffee or any hot beverage, just use a grater to get the amount desired to sweeten with. In this particular recipe you can just use whole piloncillo cones and they will melt and make for a delicious syrup. The syrup also gets infused with cinnamon sticks and a couple of whole cloves which make this syrup so unique and flavorful.
Now let me talk a little bit more about Capirotada, or Mexican bread pudding. As I mentioned above, it is something that is traditionally served during lent but growing up I always had it around or at Christmas. Capirotada varies depending on what part of Mexico someone is from. Some people add bananas to their capirotada, (I can get down with this for sure!), and top it with sprinkles. I mean who doesn’t like sprinkles on their dessert, right?! Lots of other places add cheese to theirs. Yes, you heard right. Cheese. Now let me be real honest with you, I am not about that cheese-on-capirotada life. However, I am not hating on it and you do what you need to do and eat your capirotada how you like it. It’s just not for me, that’s all. My mami’s capirotada is made with the simple piloncillo-cinnamon syrup and topped with raisins, pecans, and coconut flakes. Have it with a nice hot cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk. The best thing about it is that it can be eaten warm or cold. Either way it is so delicious and you honestly won’t be able to have just one piece. Enjoy!
- 1-1½ loaves french bread
- 2 cups water
- 2 piloncillo cones or brown sugar, *see notes
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 whole cloves
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup pecan pieces
- ¼-½ cup shredded coconut per preference
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Slice french bread into about ¾ inch slices. Place onto a large baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden and toasted.
- While bread is toasting, place water, piloncillo (or brown sugar), cinnamon sticks, and whole cloves in a sauce pan over medium heat. Cook until piloncillo or sugar is melted and syrup has simmered, about 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and cloves.
- Arrange a layer of toasted bread in a 13×9 baking dish. Top with ¼ cup raisins, ¼ cup pecans, and half of the coconut. Pour ¾ cup of syrup on top.
- Repeat process one more time, leaving 1/4 cup syrup to the side for serving if preferred. This is not how it is typically served but makes for a great presentation and for a little extra delicious syrup.
- Bake for additional 15 minutes to give time for the bread to absorb the syrup.
- Serve with a hot cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk. This can be enjoyed warm or cold!