Satisfy your sweet tooth with this Mexican bread pudding recipe. Cinnamon, cloves, dark rum and pecan syrup infuse each bite of this cinnamon bread pudding with warm flavors that are reminiscent of fall.
For the cinnamon-pecan syrup, in a medium saucepan combine the water, the 1 cup granulated sugar, the piloncillo, lemon peel, canela, and cloves. Bring to boiling over high heat; reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, until sugars are dissolved and mixture is thickened and syrupy, stirring frequently. Cool for 15 minutes. Strain to remove canela and cloves. Stir in nuts and raisins; set aside (mixture will continue to thicken).
Meanwhile, in a heavy large skillet heat 1/2 inch of oil to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until stiff but not dry. In a medium bowl whisk egg yolks about 1 minute or until light and frothy. Gently fold egg yolks into egg whites.
In a large bowl combine milk, the 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the 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, turning to coat well. Place coated bread slice in the hot oil in skillet; fry about 2 minutes or until lightly browned, turning once. Transfer fried bread to paper towels. Repeat with the remaining bread and dipping mixtures, cooking about one-third of the slices at a time and reheatiing oil between batches.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 2-quart rectangular baking dish with half of the bread slices. Spoon half of the cinnamon-pecan syrup over bread slices. Repeat with the remaining bread slices and syrup. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until syrup bubbles and begins to caramelize. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.