Mexico's fragrant, delicious "ponche navideño" Christmas punch, served hot.
Loaded with seasonal fruits and sweet spices, it's a do-not-miss at our Christmas festivities. The recipe is simple and the rewards are many; you, your family, and your holiday guests will love it as much as I do. Photo courtesy México Desconocido.
At nearly every winter party in Mexico, you'll find a big vat of steaming hot, homemade ponche navideño. Served with or without a piquete (a shot of rum, tequila, or other alcohol), this marvelous drink will warm you from the inside out. Really, it wouldn't be Christmas (or a posada, or New Year's Eve) without it. Here's the recipe I've used for years.
Ponche Navideño Mexicano **You should be able to buy everything on this list at your local Latin market**
2 pounds sugar cane, peeled and cut into 3” sticks
1 pound apples, cored and cut into thin slices or chunks
1 pound pears, cored and cut into thin slices or chunks--Bosc are excellent for this
10 ripe guavas, cut in quarters and seeded
Peel of one orange
1 pound tejocotes, cut in quarters and seeded
1/2 pound tamarind fruit removed from the pods and deveined
1/2 pound prunes with or without seeds
2 ounces dried jamaica flowers
1 star anise pod (optional)
1 kilo piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar)
1/2 cup white sugar (optional)
2 long sticks Mexican cinnamon, broken in thirds or quarters
6 quarts of water or more
A 12-to-14 quart lidded pot
Before you start cutting up fruit, put 6 quarts of water in a pot, cover it, and over high heat, heat it until it boils.
Add all the cut fruit to the pot and bring the pot back to a boil. Then lower to simmer and simmer for 20 minutes. If you think the pot needs more water, bring it to a boil separately and add it little by little.
Add the tamarind, the prunes, the jamaica, the cloves, the piloncillo, the white sugar, the cinnamon, and continue to simmer until all of the fruit is soft and tender.
We usually ask our adult guests if they'd like their ponche con piquete (with alcohol--rum, tequila, etc). Add a shot to each cup as requested, prior to adding the ponche.
Serves 12 to 15. If you have some left over, save it (fruit and all) till the next day and re-heat. Ponche navideño is even better the second day!
Provecho! (Mexico's way of saying bon appetit!)