|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 15 to 20|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 4g||6%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||2%|
|Total Carbohydrate 50g||18%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||15%|
|Total Sugars 40g|
|Vitamin C 55mg||277%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Ponche Navideño is a staple in many Mexican homes from around December 12 (Fiesta of the Virgin of Guadalupe) all the way through the Day of the Magi on January 6. It’s indispensable for Las Posadas, traditional Christmas parties held every evening from December 16 to 24. This delicious punch is often served in a rustic clay mug and garnished with a cinnamon stick.
Once you are done drinking a cup of ponche Navideño, you are only halfway through enjoying it; you then need to use a spoon to eat the chopped fruit at the bottom of the mug. This comforting, aromatic beverage warms you from the inside out on chilly winter nights—and makes your home smell heavenly.
Ideally, the fruits used in this recipe should be fresh, but canned or frozen tejocotes or guavas can be used if fresh are unavailable. All quantities are approximate and can be tweaked as needed to taste.
2 quarts hot water
8 to 10 tejocotes
2 dried tamarind pods
2 1/2 gallons drinking water
3 pounds raw sugar cane, in pieces
2 pounds piloncillo
1/2 pound prunes
2 pears, peeled and chopped
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup green apples, peeled and chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pint brandy, optional
*Tejocotes (pronounced teh-hoh-COH-tehs), the fruit of the Mexican hawthorn tree, are an essential ingredient in ponche, as they add flavor and texture that cannot be obtained from any other element. Fresh tejocotes can be very hard to obtain outside of Mexico, but will often appear in frozen or jarred form in Hispanic food markets in the United States.
Gather the ingredients.
Soak tamarind pods and fresh tejocotes in very hot (but not boiling) water for about an hour. (If tejocotes are frozen, canned, or from a jar, they do not need to be soaked.)
Bring the 10 quarts of water to a boil in a very large pot, then reduce to a slow simmer.
Remove tamarind and tejocotes from soaking water and discard water. Remove brittle shells from tamarind; squeeze out seeds from pulp.
Cut tejocotes into quarters, removing skin. Add tamarind pulp and tejocotes to simmering water.
Cut guavas into quarters and add to pot. Add piloncillo, prunes, pears, orange juice, apple, walnuts, cinnamon, and cloves.
Chop or slice sugar cane into chunks (removing the tough outer layer, if necessary) and add it to the punch.
Simmer, uncovered, for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
Remove cinnamon sticks before serving to facilitate pouring. Use a ladle to pour liquid and chunks of fruit into large mugs. Provide spoons so that your guests can eat the fruit while sipping the hot liquid.
Variation with Brandy
Mix in an ounce of brandy per serving. Or—if everyone present is willing and able to imbibe—add the entire pint to the batch right before serving. Store any leftover punch in the refrigerator. Reheat the next day and enjoy it again.