Ponche Navideño (Mexican Christmas Fruit Punch)

Ponche Navideño is a hot punch served with or without alcohol during the holiday season and most generally during Las Posadas. On those chilly nights this warm and fragrant infusion warms you from the inside out. I plan to make this often during the winter months here in Colorado.

Since starting this blog, I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with holiday drinks and learning about traditional Mexican ingredients. My grandma made a very similar calientito (warm drink) around the holidays but it did not have all of the unique ingredients listed below. This recipe was adapted from one created by Fany Gerson in her My Sweet Mexico cookbook. Below is the final outcome after some experimenting. I wanted a touch of citrus and spice, hence the addition of the orange and cloves. Thank you Fany for the inspiration.

It was exciting to learn about some of the unique ingredients that are commonly used in a traditional ponche. Tejocotes was an ingredient I had never purchased before. At $9/pound I know why. I figured I’d buy half a pound and see what they were all about and I’m so happy I did. They have a sweet and sour taste, which is reminiscent of something between a plum and an apricot. If you do not have access to this fruit you can substitute with crab apples.

Another unique ingredient I had never purchased before were guavas. The ones I used were yellow, over ripened, soft, and very sweet, but that was perfectly fine because they dissolved in the water and added a uniquely sweet taste to the ponche.

My mom sold tamarind in our family’s neighborhood grocery store and although all the barrio kids loved it, it never appealed to me. I can’t believe I lived this long without ever trying it. It has a very unique tart flavor and gives the punch its rich warm color.

Here’s hoping you will venture out to your nearest Mexican grocery store and purchase some of these exotic ingredients to make your ponche Navideño. The intoxicating aroma and perfumed air in your home will certainly entice your guests to give the drink a try. After that, they’re hooked.

Brandy or tequila can be added, making it ponche con piquete (punch with a sting).

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Ponche Navideño (Mexican Christmas Fruit Punch)

Yield: 20 Servings

Ingredients:

4 quarts water

2 cinnamon sticks

8 whole cloves

5 long tamarind pods, husk removed, and seeded or boil the entire pod to make removing easier

½ pound tejocotes or crab apples, left whole

6 large guavas, peeled and cut into large bite-size chunks

2 red apples (of your choice), peeled, cored, and cut into small bite-size chunks

1 pear (of your choice), peeled, cored, and cut into small bite-size chunks

2 (4-inch) sugarcane sticks, peeled and cut into small chunks

1 cup pitted prunes

1/2 cup dark raisins

1 orange, sliced

1 cone piloncillo, chopped or 1 cup dark brown sugar

1 ounce brandy or tequila per cup (optional)

Directions:

In a large pot, over high heat, boil water, cinnamon sticks, cloves, tamarind, and tejocotes. After it starts to boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the tejocotes are soft.

Remove the tejocotes from the heat, peel, remove hard ends, cut in half, and deseed. Return them to the pot.

Add guavas, apples, pears, sugar cane, prunes, orange slices, and piloncillo.

Simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring gently. Discard cinnamon sticks and cloves.

Ladle into cups, making sure each cup gets some chunks of fruit.

Add brandy or tequila to each cup (optional).

Adapted from My Sweet Mexico cookbook

Tejocotes / Source / Daniel Manrique
Guava / Source / photodoris
Tamarind / Source /
The Brazilian Foodie
Ponche Photography by Jeanine Thurston

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28 Responses to “Ponche Navideño (Mexican Christmas Fruit Punch)”

  1. 1

    We like Ponche Navideno too. I make mine with hibiscus tea to give it a crimson color and that slightly tart taste that balances the sweetness from the fruit and piloncillos. The tejocotes are pricey but they are a gem when you get one in a serving.

    The longer this steeps, the better the flavors. Salud! Where did you score your tejocote? I got mine at Rancho Liborio last year.

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — December 12th, 2011 @ 10:15 am

      Hola Andrea,

      We missed you at the meet up on Saturday. Heard you were making tamales – good for you. YAY!
      Last year I found tejocotes at a little grocery store in Old Littleton. This year I saw them on Saturday for $7.99/pound at the grocery store I go to on Federal next to Tacos Junior. The grocery store used to be called Azteca and now I can’t remember its new name.

      Feliz Navidad amiga!

  2. 2
    Leslie @ La Cocina de Leslie — December 8, 2011 @ 10:06 am

    Ponche Navideño is hands down my favorite part of our Nochebuena dinner. My sister-in-law makes a tamarindo ponche much like this one and it is SO good, especially with a splash of tequila. :)

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — December 14th, 2011 @ 10:24 am

      Leslie: MINE too! It’s so comforting…especially with tequila! We are flying to Idaho this Christmas and I plan to smuggle my ingredients to make this over there. LOL!

  3. 3
    Mercedes @BeChicMag — December 8, 2011 @ 10:49 am

    Que ricura!

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — December 14th, 2011 @ 10:25 am

      Gracias Mercedes!

  4. 4
    Comiendo en LA — December 8, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

    Se ve deliciooooso! Y que linda presentacion.

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — December 14th, 2011 @ 10:27 am

      Comiendo en LA: Mil gracias!

  5. 5
    Eva Smith of Tech.Food.Life. — December 8, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

    Thanks for a childhood memory. I rember ponches during posadas. Thank you. Love the selection of ingredients. This recipe will bring wonderful aromas in the kitchen.

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — December 14th, 2011 @ 10:28 am

      It’s our pleasure Eva. Enjoy the season. Feliz Navidad! Salud!

  6. 6
    Leah — December 8, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

    We were just talking about calientitos the other night. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — December 12th, 2011 @ 9:52 am

      Leah, please make it and tell me what you think!!! Grama used to make one similar but only used apples, oranges, and of course cinnamon, cloves, and piloncillo. I’m positive you’ll find all the other unique ingredients in El Paso. Good luck. Besos!!!

  7. 7
    leticia — December 8, 2011 @ 9:38 pm

    How would I make this for a party of about 100 guests.

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — December 8th, 2011 @ 9:52 pm

      Hola Leticia,

      Make this ponche in a LARGE pot. I’ve made it in a tamale steamer before to make plenty. If you don’t have a large pot then make 4-5 pots of this recipe. This recipe makes about 20 servings. Best of luck. Can’t wait to hear all about it!

      • leticia replied: — December 8th, 2011 @ 9:54 pm

        But would I double up on the ingredients and by how much?

  8. 8
    muybuenocookbook — December 8, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

    To serve 100 people I would suggest you at least quadruple the ingredients. Hope that helps!

  9. 9
    Sujeiry — December 8, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

    Hmmm…this reminds me of a hot totty. Really yummy and great for the cold or if one has a cold.

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — December 9th, 2011 @ 8:53 am

      I had a cold, so I can say…YES, its perfect for the sniffles ;) Gracias Sujeiry!

  10. 10
    lalicenciada — December 9, 2011 @ 10:29 am

    This sounds delish!!! And whith a shot of whiskey will cure any cold! LOL This sounds like a nice alternative to Che’s favorite Chicha Morada (peruvian punch). Worth a try! Thanks.

    Best,
    Li

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — December 14th, 2011 @ 10:30 am

      A peruvian punch sounds yummy! Do you have a recipe for that?

  11. 11
    Rachel — December 9, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

    Mmmm this sounds so good :)

  12. 12
    vianney — December 12, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

    This is the best!! I love making ponche all dec/jan. The house smells amazing!

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — December 14th, 2011 @ 10:32 am

      Me too Vianney! I LOVE the smell of canela simmering and with all these additional ingredients it’s just amazing. Mmmm!

  13. 13
    thatmau5 — December 15, 2011 @ 10:11 am

    This punch looks like a great idea to serve at my Christmas party. It gets really cold here during the winter and this would be awesome. Thanks so much for sharing this.

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