Ponche! In Mexico this warming, fragrant punch is a must during the holiday season. The recipe varies depending on taste and family recipes, but the familiar aroma of a big pot of Ponche boiling on a stove is a welcome home to many who grew up enjoying this tradition.
The sweetness level can be easily adjusted by adding more of the piloncillo/ raw sugar cane or I like to let everyone customize their own by putting out packets of truvia or whatever you use to sweeten your coffee or tea.
- 6 dried hibiscus/jamaica flowers
- 4 tamarind pods cleaned
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 small piloncillos/ raw sugar cane cones
- 14 oz of fresh sugar cane (if available or frozen is fine) quartered lengthwise
- 10 guavas quartered
- juice from 3 mandarins
- 6 fuji or ambrosia apples peeled and diced, do not discard the skins
- 15 tejocotes / hawthorne fruit
- 15 whole unpitted prunes
- 7 liters of water
- optional tequila or rum
Step 1 – begin with adding the cinnamon sticks, piloncillo/ raw cane sugar, hibiscus, apple peels, tamarind and the 7 liters of filtered water to a large pot; bring to a boil, turn down heat and allow to simmer for 1 hour while you prep the other ingredients.
Step 2 – poach the tejocotes in boiling water for 5 minutes, this will make them easier to peel; drain and rinse with cold water, use a paring knife to clean up the ends and remove the skins, set aside.
Step 3 – after 1 hour of cooking time is up you will need to strain the punch to remove all of the leftover inedible pieces; I do this by placing a large sieve over a second container that is big enough to hold all of the liquid, pour the entire punch through the sieve, discard the solids and return the punch to the original pot and place back on the stove.
Step 4 – add the sugar cane, tejocotes and diced apples to the punch and allow to simmer for 30 minutes; when time is up add the guavas, prunes and the fresh mandarin juice; taste and adjust sweetness level if desired; turn off heat and allow to sit for at least 1 hour, the longer this sits the better, some let it sit for 24 hours before consuming.
To serve add a few of the pieces of fruit to a mug and fill with the hot punch, finish with a cinnamon stick, and a splash of tequila or rum if desired. Enjoy!