posts may contain Amazon affiliate links, which earn me a small commission when you buy (but doesn't cost you anything extra). Occasionally I receive free products and/or run sponsored posts—this will always be stated clearly in the post. Thank you for supporting this blog.

This website contains some quotations, excerpts, and screen clips from copyrighted material. These uses fall well within the copyright doctrine of "Fair Use".
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

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

Would you like to comment?

  1. ...and to you and yours, Erica! Thanks so much =)

  2. This is my kind of drink,Heather!!!Delicious!Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  3. Hi Heather!!! Thank you so much for sharing your "cherished family" recipe with us. Your enthusiasm for all things food and drink never ceases to amaze me. You just dive right in!!! (pun intended:) It sounds like your family cultures have fully embraced each other and that, is just wonderful!!! Once again, thank you for sharing and I wish you and your family a Very Merry and Blessed Christmas, Louise

  4. I would feel super cool too! I'm kind of jealous. I would NEVER be able to source those ingredients where we live, heck I don't even think I could source those ingredients in Canada let alone my province. I will just have to sit back and close my eyes and imagine how heavenly this must be!

  5. Thank you, Claudia...I wish the same to you ☺

  6. The color is so amber - it almost looks like a light liquid caramel. I can see how these aromas would bring the family home - to stay!  I wish you a very Merry Christmas to you and yours. Have a joyful holiday weekend.

  7. Funny you should say that...I always thought it was like a warm sangria.  Great minds, great minds ;)

  8. Hi Mely :)  You're so's nice to walk in from the cold and have a warm, fragrant drink to greet you!  Everybody in our family likes tamarind, so I always add it...but I have heard the suggestion of adding jamaica before.  Unfortunately, the kids don't like jamaica, but hubby and I do, so I think I'm going to have to try making a smaller batch for us to enjoy. (I'm heading over to see if you have one listed at your place...just in case.) Thanks for the reminder!  Merry Christmas to you and yours.  

  9. Thank you, Miz Helen...Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  10. Oh, wow, would I love to try a glass of that punch!  I can't quite imagine all those flavors blended together and topped off with a shot of rum but I would be first in line to fill up my glass.  Love this tradition.  Happiest holiday best wishes to you and your family, Heather.

  11. What a super fun spiced drink! Kind of like sangria...but way cooler.

  12. Looks delicious drink. Thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop. I too love guava and sugar cane.

  13. Hi Heather,
    This looks awesome, and I am so excited to get the history on Christmas Punch. I need to include this with my Christmas Eve Buffet, it would be perfect. Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas to you and your family!
    Miz Helen

  14. Sooo exotic and fantastic..

  15. Visiting from Rook No. 17's A Little Birdie Told Me... I might just have to head to the market and pick up these things for tonight! Looks delicious.

  16. Oh so wish I could get the ingredients here - looks divine!

  17. mely@mexicoinmykitchenDecember 22, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    Last weekend I bought everything to make ponche. I usually have a large pot during the winter time. I just keep adding water and fruits to make more to the same pot. People love to have something warm and different to drink when they are coming from the bitter cold weather. Not everyone likes tamarind and instead I just add the jamaica flowers. 

    Great post, Keep warm.


  18. So fun reading about the traditions and memories associated with this punch.  I like that everyone has their own way of making it.  I was especially drawn into the sugar cane.  Can remember chewing on stalks as a child.  I can only imagine how wonderful this must make a house smell.

  19. I'm captivated by the swizzle sticks alone.  So much fun to read about and see some new ingredients!  This looks delicious, especially with a dash of rum.  Fits right into my holiday relaxation plan :)

  20. Sue...if you click through to see Leslie's post...she actually did an apple version! =)

  21. This series is such a great idea, I love it---when i was still living in Los Angeles i cold have found all these ingredients, but now in New Hampshire I'm sure I'd have a bit of trouble.  It's wonderful just reading about it, I'll try to make a version with apples!

  22. Thanks chica!  I feel the same way.  Wish we could have an "actual" ponche party ;)

  23. I am going to get some sugar cane right away! great idea for the festivities, I have to make your ponche. thanks for sharing.

  24. This is ABSOLUTELY divine, Heather. Absolutely!

  25. Looks ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS and DELICIOUS, amiga!!!  And I love that you used pieces of sugar cane as swizzle sticks.  I'll have to try that trick next time. :)  

    As always, it was a pleasure cooking with you, Heather. :)   

  26. I love ponche and your pics are gorgous. I spotted this on my google reader and had to jump over here and check it out! We have been  blessed this year to have alot of family visit us here in the valley and we are on our fourth batch of this wonderful ponche.  I love the swizzle sticks, great idea!

  27. This is such a great post! I really enjoyed reading it - I've never had ponche navideno and it sounds so good! I also found it very nteresting to read about the ingredients - I can't imagine being able to source sugar cane like that - and I had no idea it grew so tall. Thank you for sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  28. This looks amazing and I am sure the aroma is wonderful wafting through the house--perfect for the holidays.

  29. I've never heard of this, much less ever made it. But thanks to your post - which I found at Rook No. 17's A Little Birdie Told Me... - I gave it a shot for our Christmas Eve dinner. Fabulous. Thanks for the inspiration.

  30. I am SO EXCITED that you made it...and enjoyed it!  It looks fabulous. Salud and Feliz Navidad, Camilla!

  31. Heather, I can't believe I've never had the pleasure of trying Ponche Navideno!  Tamarind and Guava are two of my most favorite flavors.  The punch must surely taste like Christmas in Heaven!