The holidays are a time of celebration, and Mexico has a lot of her own December food and drink traditions. As the weather turns a bit cooler and the Posadas and Christmas fiestas begin, one of the favorite festive beverages of choice is a calientito – a little hot drink. Also called Ponche Navideño, this warm drink is popular in Mexico throughout the Christmas season, and it’s definitely not a holiday celebration without it.
Ponche is a warm Mexican Christmas Fruit Punch, made with a blend of fruits, cinnamon, clove, sugarcane, and piloncillo, that have been heated on the stove and allowed to meld. It reminds me of my childhood, when my abuela would have it simmering in the kitchen during family Christmas celebrations. Many adults even add in brandy, whiskey, or tequila, making it Ponche con Piquete (punch with a sting), while the kids always like to dig into the cups to get the sweet fruit that has been steeped in the punch to give it its flavor.
Caleintitos are served at any festive Mexican occasion during the Christmas holidays, similar to how Americans enjoy egg nog. We want to help you celebrate the holidays by sharing our Ponche Navideña recipe with you.
1 gallon water
2 cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves
5 long tamarind pods, husks removed, and seeded
8 ounces whole tejocotes or crab apples
6 large guavas, peeled and diced
2 medium red apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 medium pear, peeled, cored, and diced
2 (4-inch) sugar cane sticks, peeled and diced
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup raisins
1 medium orange, sliced
8 ounces chopped piloncillo, or 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
Place the water, cinnamon sticks, cloves, tamarind pods, and tejocotes or crab apples in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the tejocotes are soft, about 10 minutes.
Remove the tejocotes or crab apples from the pot with a slotted spoon. When cool enough to handle, peel, trim the ends, halve, and remove the seeds. Return the apple halves to the pot.
Add the guavas, apples, pear, sugarcane, prunes, raisins, orange, and piloncillo. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the cinnamon sticks and cloves.
To serve, ladle the punch into coffee cups or mugs, making sure each cup gets some chunks of fruit. If desired, add 1 ounce of brandy or tequila to each cup.
Visit us at 210 Ceviche this season for your favorite Mexican cuisine.