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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ponche Navideño: Mexican Christmas Punch

Ingredients, clockwise from the piece of sugar cane:  Sugar cane, cone of piloncillo (unrefined sugar), prunes, cinnamon sticks, raisins, tejocotes (a small, apple-like fruit from the hawthorn family), orange, tamarind pods, cone of piloncillo, more tejocotes, dried jamaica (hibiscus) flowers, Golden Delicious apples, and guavas.



Ponche Navideño:  Mexican Christmas Punch



Who could not love the heady, fruity smell of a pot of simmering ponche during the holidays?  The guavas, the cinnamon--the blended smells create pure olfactory bliss.  And memories.  They create olfactory memories that tug at the heart with every whiff.  For me personally, those perfumed smells will always remind me of the oh-so-touching Christmas posadas in the homes of Mexican friends and of our annual shared Christmas dinner with another family, our dear friends, where the husband makes the ponche each year.  That fabulous ponche...redolent of great smells and of happy, warm memories. 


A pot of simmering ponche...my style




Tamarind pods are much easier to peel if first soaked for a few minutes in hot, almost boiling, water




You can tell by the products available in the markets and supermarkets at this time of year that "ponche time" is upon us.  Small tiendas, large supermarkets, and market stalls all offer groupings of ingredients specific for making ponche. This punch isn't difficult to make either, and you can certainly be flexible with the ingredients.  So have fun with it.  This version comes from Martha Martínez Ramírez, who works for me and often assist me in cooking classes.  This very traditional punch is served at Christmas posadas celebrations and in homes, like mine, to soothe family and neighbors alike.  This recipe can certainly be doubled or tripled--or more.


This is how I learned to prepare tejocotes for punch, though many people just use them whole and uncut






Note:  I add more guavas and prunes simply because I love them.  I also add pears, a few cloves, and walnuts, though not always.  Another difference between my own recipe and Martha's is that I add the tejocotes with the cinnamon as they need longer to soften and I soften the tamarind pods in very hot water to make peeling easier.  But I do drink ponche as it is made exactly by this recipe every year at Martha's and can testify that it is excellent.  No extra guavas required!


Extra guavas...lots of extra guavas...my personal taste




[Apologies to those who subscribe to my newsletter and received this recipe last month.  But surely this Holiday treat deserves an even wider audience, right?]





Mexican Christmas Punch

Ponche Navideño
(Recipe by Martha Martínez Ramírez)


1 6-inch piece Mexican cinnamon


4 liters of water

1 apple with peel, in slices (Martha uses Golden Delicious)

8 to 10 tejocotes (a fruit from the Hawthorn tree, available in markets and supermarkets. ends trimmed and cut with an X to open them up for cooking)

2 10-inch pieces of fresh sugar cane, peeled and cut into pieces 6 prunes, without seeds (I use more)

A handful of raisins

3 guavas, cut into wedges (I use at least triple this amount)

10 tamarind pods, peeled (I soak these in very hot water first), strings removed, but seeds left in (this last part is optional)

A large pinch of dried hibiscus flowers ( jamaica)

3 cones of piloncillo (unrefined natural sugar) or brown sugar, or to taste 1 orange, peeled and cut into segments


Instructions:
Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the cinnamon stick. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingrediets, cover, and continue to boil for 10 to 15 minutes or until the fruits are soft.  Serve in mugs.  Festive Christmas mugs...





It's always a Festive Season in San Miguel de Allende...



A poinsettia is called Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) in Spanish


Victoria Challancin
Flavors of the Sun International Cooking School
San Miguel de Allende,
México

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.


4 comments:

Ben said...

I want some ponche right now! It's been kinda cold here in Mexico and it makes me want to drink this hot delicious concoction.

Dimah said...

what a beautiful pictures! that looks great!

Anonymous said...

mmmm I will make some poche manana!!

Barbara said...

Hi,

I'm searching for the gorgeous Festive Christmas mug you've showed on this post for three years now and still was not able to find one.

Please, can you tell me where I can buy that lovely mug?

Thanks in advance,
Barbara

PS. If you have a used mug which you can spare, I would love to purchase it from you (no matter the costs).