As a kid I looked forward to Easter every year. To me it meant: Confetti eggs, a new Easter dress, a cute little bunny pin on my sweater, yellow ribbons in my hair, and a fancy basket that my mom would put her heart into. She knew exactly how to make it special and filled the basket with all my favorite treats. I would pull the brightly colored cellophane off to find yellow marshmallow bunnies, colorful plastic eggs filled with jellybeans or sweet tarts, a chocolate egg from See’s, chocolate malt balls with a hard white shell, Jordan almonds, a variety of small japanese toys, and a big solid chocolate bunny wrapped in pink foil. Complete kiddie heaven.
Come Easter day we would have a huge family picnic with all the fixings. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits, ham, macaroni and cheese, and some sort of green salad. Dessert was a whole party on it’s own…. Chocolate banana cream cake, finger jello, ambrosia salad, sugar shortbread cookies, and lemon meringue pie. A sugar high for all. Then the grand Easter egg hunt would take place, my cousins and I would scramble in a frenzy to try and find the golden egg, that was the one with money in it. It was a day of absolute family closeness, and a spirit of fulfilled happiness. Once the sun would start to fade the festivities would die down, everyone would say their good-byes, and return home.
I would jump into my pajamas first thing, and settle in for a screening of “The Wizard of Oz”, which showed annually every Easter evening on regular television. But nothing was complete until my mom would serve me a bowl of warm capirotada topped with whipped cream and candy sprinkles. It was the finale to my Easter. The end all of end all’s. It was made of the things I dreamed about. Sweet rich softness on the inside, crystallized and crispy on the outside. The most divine taste you could put in your mouth. I relished every bite, and till this day capirotada is what I look forward to the most when Easter/Lent rolls around. Hippity Hippity Hoppity Hoppity Easter’s on it way!
7 – pan dulce (conchas) (sliced and toasted, should make around 10 cups)
6 – cups water
3 – piloncillo (cane sugar)
5 – cloves
6 – cinnamon sticks
2 – anise stars
1 – teaspoon vanilla extract
2 – granny smith apples (peeled and sliced)
3/4 – cup raisins
1/2 – cup pecans (coarsely chopped)
1 – cup cheddar cheese (I use Tillamook)
1/2 – cup almonds (coarsely chopped)
1 – cup sweetened shredded coconut
2 – cups monterey jack cheese (I use Tillamook)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
On a chopping board slice each pan dulce into 12 to 15 pieces. Reserve all sugar topping crumbs for later use.
Then line two cookies sheets with aluminum foil and place sliced pan dulce evenly across each sheet.
Place in the oven and bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until golden brown.
Once you remove toasty pan dulce from oven, reduce temperature to 350 degrees fahrenheit. In a saucepan, over a medium flame, add water, piloncillo, cloves, cinnamon sticks, anise stars, and vanilla extract to make syrup. Stir every so often to help piloncillo melt, once melted, reduce flame to low and let simmer while you build your capirotada.
In a buttered glass baking dish 9 x 13, place 5 cups of toasted pan dulce slices to bottom to form your first layer.
Now peel both granny smith apples and slice into thin wedges. Divide in half.
Next, use half of the granny smith apple slices and raisin to layer on top of toasted pan dulce.
Here comes the next layer. Add pecans and cheddar cheese.
Again add another layer of pan dulce with the remaining 5 cups, and almonds.
Now for the fun part. Take piloncillo syrup and pour over the top of toasted pan dulce layers to soak all the way through. The pan dulce should be very soggy and drenched.
After 40 minutes, pull capirotada out of oven and it should be golden and crunchy. Then loosely cover with aluminum foil and put back in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes. This step will help to keep the top of your capirotada from burning, but allow more of the moisture to evaporate from bread pudding.
Pull it out of the oven, remove aluminum foil, and allow it to sit for a half hour.
Capirotada tip: I like to serve mine warm with candy sprinkles on top. If you’re feeling decadent add whipped cream to that equation.
“Te Sacastes Un Diez!”