- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup brandy, rum, or vodka
- 1 pound ciabatta loaf, cut into roughly 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups dark brown sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1 1-inch piece cinnamon
- 1 star anise pod
- 5 cloves
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- 1 red apple, quartered
- 1/4 cup port
- 1/2 cup toasted whole almonds, chopped
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
- 1 cup firm salty cheese, such as cojita or asiago, diced or crumbled (see note)
- Preheat oven to 300° F. Place the raisins and brandy, rum, or vodka in a bowl. Cover and set aside to macerate until ready to use.
- Toss the bread cubes with the butter. Spread evenly on a parchment paper-lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. Toss and rearrange the bread cubes and bake again for another 10 minutes, tasting to check for crunchiness. When done, bread should be very crunchy, like croutons. Turn off the oven and keep the bread in there until ready to use.
- Meanwhile, add the brown sugar and water to a medium saucepan. Heat over high heat until fully dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium and add cinnamon, star anise, cloves, orange peel, orange juice, quartered apple, and port. Simmer until syrup is thick and sticky, about 15 minutes. It should coat the back of a spoon and be very sticky when dripped on a cold plate and cooled. Strain the syrup and add it back to the saucepan. Keep warm over very low heat.
- Remove bread from oven and dump into a large bowl. Add the syrup and toss evenly coat the bread cubes.
- Drain the raisins from the liquor, squeezing out any excess moisture. Add to the bread cubes. Add the chopped nuts and gently toss everything together.
- Arrange the ranfañote on a serving platter and coat it with the syrup for 20 minutes, or until the bread has softened slightly and is ready to serve. The bread is still supposed to be crunchy, although you should let the syrup slightly soften exterior so it is not so rough when you take a bite.
- Immediately before serving, sprinkle the ranfañote with cheese. Serve in bowls or small plates, or keep in a large bowl for people to snack on.