Recipe by Trinidad Garza of La Casa Bakery in Houston, Texas
13 ounces piloncillo (or 2 cups dark brown sugar)
5 cinnamon sticks
2 bolillos or baguettes
Oil for frying
3 yellow plantains, sliced into ½-inch rounds
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon shredded coconut
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon nuts (peanuts, pecans, or walnuts)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon raisins
½ cup grageas de colores (or rainbow sprinkles)
In a medium saucepan, bring piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and 4½ cups water to a boil. Stir until piloncillo is dissolved and consistency is syrup-like. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and steep for 1 to 2 hours. Strain out spices and set aside.
Cut bolillos into 1-inch slices and place on a baking sheet. Toast in oven until crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Add plantain slices and brown, about 3 minutes. Lower heat to medium-high, flip and brown the other side, about 3 minutes more. Remove and let drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish in an even layer of bolillo slices. Next, add a layer of mozzarella cheese, coconut, nuts, and raisins. Reserve 1 tablespoon each of raisins, coconut, and nuts for the final topping. Drizzle the spiced syrup over the layer, and repeat the process beginning with bolillo slices. To the final layer, add plantain slices, sprinkle remaining tablespoon raisins, coconut, and nuts over top and bake for 15 minutes, until fragrant and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with sprinkles. Capirotada is tasty served warm or chilled.