Christmas time in Mexico is a time to prepare the traditional Ponche Navideño/Christmas Punch. At family gatherings some will have a large pot simmering on top of the stove with the sweet liquid full of fruits, while the cinnamon and citric fruit aromas float in the air. The Ponche Navideño is another essential part of Christmas in Mexico. The recipe calls for some traditional ingredients like cinnamon, tejocotes (a small yellow fruit that resembles crabapples), piloncillo (raw sugar cane), sugar cane sticks, seasonal fruits include guavas, apples, pears, oranges and dry fruits, too. The punch can be found with different added fruits depending of the region in Mexico. You can find punch with acid fruits like oranges, Mexican sweet lime or pineapple. And as far as spices go, besides cinnamon, some cooks will also add anise star and chamomile. This is the good part about this drink, that you can add the fruits you have available and it will still come out fine.
I know that for many of us living outside Mexico it’s not easy to find the traditional main ingredients like Tejocotes or sugar cane sticks, but if you live close to a Latin or Asian Store, look for the canned version of the sugar cane sticks. In some Latin stores you can even find a jar that has the hard to find ingredients like guavas, sugar cane and tejocotes in a sweet syrup. You can also find them at our amazon store. To my surprise, I found 3 brands that sell these jars of punch. And the taste is rather good. Use them to complement your punch.
I hope you try this recipe, and your whole house will be filled with the Christmas flavors.12 servings
- 4 quarts of water (1 gallon)
- 1 large piloncillo cone (12 oz) or brown sugar
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 lb Tejocotes*
- 1 1/2 Lb. guavas (about 12 guavas)
- 1 1/2 cup apples, chopped
- 1 cup pear, chopped
- 3/4 cup prunes, chopped
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 3 sugar cane sticks about 5 inch long, cut into four pieces each.
- 1 cup of Tamarind pods, peeled (or 1 cup of Hibiscus Flowers)***
- Rum to taste
* If you do not find all the ingredients like the tejocotes, you can still make this drink without them.
** Other dried fruits can be used as a substitute.
*** Sometimes I just add the tamarind pods and other times just the Hibiscus flowers. I rarely use the 2 in the same punch and it still comes out really tasty.DIRECTIONS:
1. Place water in a large stockpot.
2. Add the piloncillo (or brown sugar) and cinnamon to cook for about 15 minutes. If you are using fresh Tejocotes, add them with the piloncillo and cinnamon since they take longer to soften.
3. Add the chopped guavas, apples, and prunes along with the rest of the ingredients like the sugar cane sticks, tamarind pods or hibiscus flowers. If you are using the canned version of the tejocotes then add them in this step.
4. Simmer for about 1 hour. Serve hot in mugs, ladling some of the fruit in and adding rum to your liking.
There are foods or drinks that sometimes bring you memories of certain people, places, or moments in time. This punch reminds me of my younger brother, Alberto. What kind of food or dish brings back memories to you?