Ponche Navideño

Hot Christmas Punch

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This hot fruit punch, traditionally enjoyed over the holiday season throughout Mexico, is a testament to the power of food and memory. Every time I smell or sip ponche, I can’t help but think of the time my cousin lit up a loud firecracker inside our tiny old house in Oaxaca! That Christmas was one of the last times we had a genuine Christmas in Oaxaca with the entire family. When we got to the United States, our holidays went by really quickly because everyone was always working at the restaurant and all of our family lived back in Oaxaca. This version is packed with lots of fruit and sugar cane because chewing on it is my favorite part. This punch resonates with love, family, and memories.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (110 g) piloncillo (Mexican-style unrefined brown sugar)
  • ¼ cinnamon stick
  • cup (10 g) dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 ounce (30 g) tamarind, seeds and skin removed
  • 1 cup (170 g) cubed apple
  • ½ cup (100 g) cubed fresh quince
  • 1 cup (100 g) peeled and cored tejocotes
  • ¼ cup (30 g) raisins
  • ½ cup (65 g) pitted prunes
  • 6 ounces (175 g) fresh sugar cane, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
  • cup (100 g) cubed fresh guava
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar

Method

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the piloncillo, cinnamon stick, and 3 quarts (2.8 L) of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the hibiscus, tamarind, apple, quince, tejocotes, raisins, prunes, and sugar cane. Simmer, covered, for another 20 minutes.

Stir in the guava and granulated sugar and turn off the heat. Serve very hot.