Mexican Christmas Punch is new to us this year. While cruising through the produce section, we found this Traditional Mexican Christmas Punch kit. It contained some of the ingredients needed, like tamarind pods. The recipe on the back had a sort of shopping list for the rest. I forgot to get the guava and completely missed the sugar cane sticks. The end result still came out really well.
I decided to strain out all of the cooked fruit and cinnamon sticks. Some friends were coming over for the Old Town Holiday Stroll. I put the Mexican Christmas punch in a crockpot to keep warm until they arrived. A ladle, some mugs, a plate of cookies, and we were good to go!
The recipe started with 9 cups of water, but after over an hour of cooking and simmering, it came out to about 6 cups. For a full crockpot or a larger crowd, I would double the recipe next time.
“Rum or tequila to taste.” How much is that?
Guava in Mexican Christmas Punch
I’ve never actually used guava. To be honest, there are two fruits I’m uncertain about–guava and papaya. I know I’ve tried one and didn’t like it, but I can’t remember which one it was. Epicurious has a very useful article on how to choose a ripe guava, how to prepare it, its nutritional value (very high in Vitamin C!) and some recipes for it.
Guava is high in pectin and is also used as a thickener, so I wonder if the punch would have been a bit thicker if I had added it. They may have tougher seeds that “may be unpleasant” but are edible.
The flavor is described as a cross between strawberry and pear. I guess I’m just going to have to buy some and try it.
Canela cinnamon sticks
The kit included canela cinnamon sticks, which are different from the tightly curled, hard cinnamon sticks we usually see. When they simmered in the punch for the entire time, they fell apart in pieces.
Peloncillo for your Mexican Christmas Punch
Peloncillo, the cane sugar cone, is a form of compressed brown sugar widely available in Hispanic food markets. The cones can come in a larger size than needed in this recipe, so be sure to weigh it to get the amount right. In a pinch, you can use regular dark brown sugar. Again, be sure to weigh it to get the right amount.
Tamarind pods in Mexican Christmas Punch
I’m glad all of this came in the kit. I’ve never used tamarind either. The recipe said to peel the pods. It kind of looks like a very large, dry bean pod. Once I cracked it open, I found a thick, sticky fruit inside with tough strings down the length of the pod. I assumed those should be discarded as well. The tamarind fruit is very thick and sticky, a lot like chopped dates.
I forgot the sugar cane sticks!
I know sugar cane sticks are generally available in Hispanic grocery stores, but not in others. I forgot about them, but the punch still came out well.