· 4 cups water· 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar· 1/4 cup raisins (or to taste)· 1 ceylon or true cinnamon stick· 3 whole cloves· 2 tablespoons Dry Sherry (optional)· 6 eggs (separated)· 1 cup milk· 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk· 1 tablespoon vanilla extract· Vegetable oil (for frying)· 1 large French baguette or thick baguette of your choice (cut into 3/4-inch slices)· 1/2 cup chopped almonds
Step 1Place a medium saucepan with the water, sugar, raisins, cinnamon and cloves over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and let it cook until it achieves the consistency of a light syrup and the flavors from the spices have infused the liquid, about 35 minutes. Turn off the heat. If you like a hint of alcohol in your dessert, add the sherry. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves. Cover to keep warm.Step 2Meanwhile, beat the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer or with a hand mixer over medium-high speed until they hold stiff peaks. Reduce the speed to low, add the yolks one by one and continue beating just until incorporated, so the volume will not decrease much.Step 3In a large bowl, combine the milk, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla, stir until incorporated.Step 4Set the bowl with the milk mixture beside the bowl with the beaten egg whites and yolks.Step 5Fill a large sauté pan with about 1/4-inch of oil and heat over medium heat until hot, but not smoking, and you see ripples in the oil when you tilt the pan.Step 6One at a time, dunk each piece of bread in the milk mixture until soaked, immediately dip into the egg mixture to completely cover, and place the coated slice in the hot oil. Fry for about a minute on one side, until golden brown, flip to the other side and do the same. Add as many bread pieces as will fit into the pan without over-crowding. When finished frying, place the bread pieces on a baking dish covered with paper towels to drain.Step 7Traditionally, the “poor gentleman” pieces are placed on a platter, covered with the syrup and refrigerated. But I think they are a thousand times tastier served hot! Cover the pieces with warm syrup, sprinkle chopped almonds on top and serve.Step 8If you have leftovers, cover the battered and fried bread pieces with the remaining syrup and almonds, and store covered in the refrigerator. I admit they are also fabulous cold.