Caballeros Pobres (French Toast with Cinnamon-Pecan Syrup)
Pour 1/2 inch oil into a heavy large skillet; heat oil to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). In another bowl whisk yolks about 1 minute or until light and frothy. Gently fold egg yolks into egg whites.
In a large bowl combine milk, sugar, rum (if using), and vanilla; stir to dissolve sugar. Dip one bread slice into milk mixture, turning to coat all sides and shaking gently over bowl to remove excess liquid. Dip the bread slice into the egg mixture to coat well, then transfer to the hot skillet; fry bread about 1 minute on each side or until light brown. Transfer fried bread to paper towels. Repeat with remaining bread and coatings, cooking about one-third of the slices at a time and reheating oil between batches.
Serve warm. If desired, drizzle with Cinnamon-Pecan Syrup or maple syrup.
In a medium saucepan combine the water, granulated sugar, piloncillo or brown sugar, lemon peel, stick cinnamon, and whole cloves. Bring to boiling over high heat; reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, until sugars dissolve and mixture is thick and syrup, stirring frequently. Cool for 15 minutes. Strain to remove cinnamon and cloves. Stir in pecans and raisins. Set aside until needed (mixture will continue to thicken).