One of my favorite stories in Peruvian Traditions by Ricardo Palma is With Days and Cooking Pots, We Will Triumph — a story about the role of cooking in the fight for Peru’s independence from Spain almost 200 years ago. In that story, one of the passwords used by the rebels was pan, queso, y raspadura, or the bread, cheese, and sugar which was rationed out to soldiers as the energy bar of the day. This dessert pays homage to that story, and uses one of the most unique ingredients in Peruvian cuisine, a syrup made from raw sugar.
There are many variations for Ranfañote, or Peruvian bread pudding, and the recipe here is a minimalist version that focuses on just a few key ingredients and flavors. For example, I used a whole grain bread to make the croutons, currants instead of raisins, and parmesan cheese as a garnish. If you’ve already made a batch of the syrup, pre-soaked the currants, and toasted the pecans and walnuts, then this dessert can be prepared just before serving.
When researching the history of this dish and the raw sugar syrup, I was saddened to learn that this dish is almost extinct, and that few people make it anymore. And that was a large part of the inspiration for me to make this dessert and share it with you here. There is also a rumor that I am planning to serve it at my next Peruvian pop-up dinner at 18 Reasons on October 24, so stop by for a special treat but don’t forget the password.
- 4 slices of bread
- 1/4 cup pecans
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 2 tablespoons currants
- 1 tablespoon sweet sherry or port
- 1 1/4 cups of Peruvian raw sugar syrup
- grated parmesan cheese for garnish
In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll need a skillet to make the croutons and toast the pecans and walnuts, a small cup to soak the currants, and a bowl to prepare the dessert.
- Soak the currants in sherry and cut each slice of bread into 16 cubes.
- In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the bread cubes to make croutons. Remove the croutons and set aside.
- In the same skillet, toast the pecans and walnuts. Remove and set aside.
- Combine the croutons, pecans, walnuts, and currants in bowl, pour in the raw sugar syrup and mix with a spoon until all the ingredients are coated in the syrup.
- Serve in small ramekins and sprinkle with parmesan cheese as garnish.
To save time, you can also toast the slices of bread in a regular toaster, and then cut them into cubes. You’ll dinner guests will be wondering why you are making toast for dessert, and will be amazed when you put it all together.
To make this dish vegan friendly, use a vegan bread to make the croutons. The raw sugar cane syrup is already 100% vegan.