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Ponche Navideño {she made, ella hace}

For this month's edition of she made, ella hace, Leslie and I thought that it would be fun to make Ponche Navideño (basically, Christmas Punch).  We just call it Ponche around here.  Every year around about the beginning of December, you can long rods of sugar canes leaning against one wall of our local Mexican Mercados.  I'm talking TALL.  Taller than six foot each and standing straight up like pool sticks.  I remember about ten years ago just standing there and wondering what in the world they were used for.  I wanted to bring one home just for the fun of it.  But I waited.  And I went home and asked the hubs about them.  Not long after that, I was pretty educated in the ways of Christmas in Mexico.  And the glories of Ponche.

Mi esposo gets a far-off look in his eyes when he remembers  his mami's simmering pots of Ponche...and really, I can't blame him.  If you come home to a warm home that is permeated with the warm, sweet scent of cinnamon, apples, oranges, and'd swear it was Christmas Eve then and there.  It puts you in a very dreamy state of mind.  For those of you who've never tried it, it is very reminiscent of spiced cider.  Or maybe a Hot Toddie.

Recipes and methods for making ponche vary from state to state, town to town, and person to person...just like any cherished family keepsake.  And now I feel extra cool when I saunter into the mercado in December and walk out with a rod of sugar cane that is taller than me in one hand and a bag overflowing with tamarindo, tejocotes, piloncillo and canela among various other things in my other hand.  You can use crab apples instead of tejocotes if you aren't able to find any.  You could add pears or raisins.  You could even add other spices, if you choose.  Add fruit whole, halved, sliced...find your favorite way of doing it.  Some people like to cut their fruit into chunks small enough to fit in their cups.  We prefer to leave them larger and pull just ladlefuls of steaming liquid from the pot or bowl.  And just like Mexi grew up doing, we serve a slice of cañe that you can dip into the liquid and then pull through your teeth...chewing along the way to release that sweet liquid.  Heck, in a pinch you can even buy Ponche "mixes" (basically dried fruit and spices or fruit suspended in liquid in glass jars) in the right mercado.

Here's the way we make our Ponche...and now I'm headed over to see how Leslie made hers!
Ponche Navideño
{Christmas Punch}
from the kitchen of girlichef
yield: just over a gallon

1 lb. tejocotes (hawthorne apples)
1 lb. guayabas (guavas)
9" stick of cañe (sugar cane), or the equivalent
3½ oz. tamarindo pods (tamarind)
2 large sticks canela (Mexican cinnamon)
2 naranjas (oranges)
2 large manzanas (apples)
4 oz. ciruelas (prunes), pitted
7 oz. piloncillo (unrefined sugar cone)
3 quarts + 2 cups cold water

to finish:
rum, brandy, tequila or other alcohol (optional)

Prepare fruit:
Cut tejocotes in half and remove the large seeds.  If you like, you can blanch them for a few minutes in boiling water, then remove.  This will let you easily half and seed, you'll be able to just slip off the skins.  If you want to do this, I recommend measuring out the amount of water called for and then doing it right in this water, so as to not lose any flavor.

Cut guayabas in half, crosswise.  Slice oranges.  Cut the apple from the core and slice.  Cut ciruelas in half, lengthwise.
Cut the sugar cane into sections by carefully whacking your knife down on one of the "divider" lines hard a few times.  You should be able to just use your hands to break it off the rest of the way...or else just continue to cut through with your knife.  Slip the edge of a sharp knife under the outer "lip" of the outside of the sugar cane.  Carefully push down with your knife while pulling back on the hard "bark".  Basically, you're peeling it.  Do this all the way around.  Once it is peeled all the way, cut into strips, lengthwise.  You could shell and seed the tamarindo, if you'd like to...but I don't.
Place everything except the alcohol into a large pot and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and let slowly bubble for ~30 minutes.

Serve hot from the cooking vessel or transfer to a punch bowl.  Plop one of the strips of sugar cane into your cup to use as a swizzle stick and then ladle in the warm punch.  Drink and enjoy.  

Or add a healthy shot of rum (or other alcohol) to the cup and then ladle in the warm punch.  Drink and enjoy even more!
*Head on over for a cup of mi amiga Leslie's Ponche!*
What happens when two American girls who are both married to Mexican guys find out that although one of them lives in the U.S. and one of them lives in Mexico, they both love eating the same food?  Well, naturally they decide to get "together" the only way they can and cook up the same dishes.  Or perhaps take the same ingredients and talking about them in their own voice or using them in their own way. 

Leslie and I have teamed up to occasionally cook/bake/make a our own versions of the same food.  We want to see how similar (or how different) they turn out.  Other times we will pick an ingredient and use it however we choose...or maybe just talk about it.  Good food knows no borders and we hope to share the food we love with you.  It's not a competition, it's a showcase.  We will post on the same day as each other and would love to hear your thoughts on what we've made and how you make it. 

Join me (here at girlichef) and Leslie in her kitchen (at La Cocina de Leslie) for some delicious food.
She Made, Ella Hace Banner- and

I am sharing this post with:
Tasty Tuesdays 33 shades of green TastyTuesdayBB hearthnsoul150 a little birdie told me rook no. 17