Christmas without a warm mug of ponche, is just not Christmas! Celebrate the season with some Mexican ponche or ponche navideño. This warm drink is made with fruits, sweetened with piloncillo, spiced with aromatic spices and can be spiked or served without. You’re going to love it!
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When Christmas time arrives I always get the memory of a sweet and fruity punch. The punch is red, has fruit pieces in it, and that it smells just like Navidad.
People here (like everywhere else) have been gearing up for navidad.
The grocery stores, markets, restaurants, and all sorts of business have got decorations and special meals to represent the season.
If you walk into a grocery store you’ll see the poinsettias displayed alongside the traditional Christmas meal ingredients.
There are dried corn husks and banana leaves for tamales, chilies, masa harina, salted cod to make bacalao, cider, nuts, and all of the fruity ingredient one needs to make ponche navideño or Christmas punch.
Ingredients Used in Mexican Ponche
The ingredients are quite basic and no matter where you live you should be able to find all or nearly all of them.
One of the integral ingredients for the punch is tejocotes.
These little orange-red-yellow fruits resemble tiny apples. They are hard and when you bite into a raw one the taste is bitter — borderline astringent. Though they resemble crabapples they are actually a different classification of fruit.
You can find them in the Mexican/Latin isle in your grocery store or you can even buy them raw or jarred from Amazon.
Fruits used in Ponche Navideño
These fruits below are also used.
- Tamarind: These brown pods need to have the hard outer shell cracked off to reveal the tender fruit and seeds inside.
- Apples: You can use sweet or a mix of sweet and tart apples, or just tart apples
- Prunes: These add a nice flavor to the punch.
Additional Ingredients and Sweetener
As you can imagine the recipes can vary from family to family but, these are the most common ingredients used by most.
Caña or Sugar Cane
Another ingredient is often used is fresh sugar cane. This one, like the tejocotes, may be difficult for you to find fresh. In the US the Mexican grocery stores sell it already peeled in vacuumed sealed bags — which in a way is better than having to peel them fresh.
You’ll see that I didn’t include them in my video, bascially just to show you that you can skip it if you can’t find them.
Flor de Jamaica or Dried Hibiscus Flowers
Flor de jamaica is also a very common ingredient. It adds that tartness taste and the gorgeous dark red color to the ponche. You can get dried hibiscus flowers at any Mexican food store or even Amazon.
Piloncillo is unrefined whole cane sugar that makes the perfect sweetener for Mexican ponche.
It’s just sweet enough without adding too much sweetness to the rest of the ingredients. Try to not substitute this for white sugar, if you can.
One of the most perfect things about this Mexican punch recipe is that you can make a big pot and serve it to adults and children alike.
If you want to spike it you can add brandy or rum. Or if you don’t then simple serve warm and you’re set.
I also love to enjoy the ponche with a marranitos cookie, it’s so delicious!
How to Make Mexican Ponche
This holiday season make sure that you make some ponche at least once.
The ponche is sweet, aromatic, and just truly smells like Christmas in a mug.
The process really isn’t difficult at all. It’s basically a matter of simmering the fruits, hibiscus and piloncillo until everything releases it’s scents and flavors. Check out the easy recipe below.
Oh and by the way, this recipe is an authentic vegan Mexican recipe! Super bonus!!!
Mexican Christmas Punch or Ponche Navideño
- 8.5 cups filtered water or 2 liters
- 1 cone piloncillo (or start with 1/2 cup grated) if not available replace with dark brown sugar and adjust to taste
- 2 whole Mexican cinnamon sticks
- 9 whole tejocotes
- 3 whole guavas chopped into large even-sized pieces
- 3 small apples chopped into large even-sized pieces
- 12 whole pitted prunes 100 grams
- 2 whole pods of tamarind peeled
- 1/4 cup hibiscus flowers known as jamaica in the Hispanic food isle
- 3 whole whole cloves
For Alcoholic version:
- rum or brandy or red wine
- Throughly clean the tejocotes (if using jarred drain and rinse), guavas, and apple. Place the piloncillo and cinnamon stick in a large pot, then pour in the water. Cover and simmer over medium heat until the piloncillo breaks down. Next add the tejocotes, prunes, hibiscus, cloves, guavas and cover allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Now add the tamarind, a little more water and the apples. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust sweetness if necessary.
- Serve with a few pieces of fruit in each mug. If you'd like to spike your punch add the amount of alcohol desired either to the pot or to each individual serving. Serve warm or cold.
What does Mexican Ponche Taste Like
The aroma is insanely delicious and so iconic of the season. It smells like Christmas in a mug. The taste is fruity, sweet, cinnamony, and there are slight tart undertones. Not one ingredients overpowers the other. The combination is stellar.
How to Store Leftovers
Any leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator and used in a few days.
Simple put on the stove or in the microwave to reheat and enjoy.
¡Salud! And a very Merry Christmas y ¡Feliz Navidad! to you and yours!
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…