In addition to being served in Mexican homes during the Christmas and New Year holiday season, hot ponche is sold at night by street vendors who ladle it out from steaming cylindrical vats. The tejocote is a small fruit, golden in color when mature, similar in taste to an apple, but with a pastier texture. It is not easily found outside of Mexico, but apples make a good substitute. In Michoacan, a piece of beet is often added instead of jamaica to color the punch.
¾ pound small apples or tejocotes, peeled and sliced
10 guavas, halved
½ pound raisins or prunes or a mixture of both
6 oranges, scrubbed and sliced with rind
1 cup jamaica (dried hibiscus) flowers
4 pieces sugar cane stalk, peeled and cut into strips (see note)
3 sticks cinnamon, each about 6” long
7 quarts water
sugar to taste (the usual proportion is 1/3 cup to each quart of water)
brandy, rum or wine to taste (optional)
Place the apples, guavas, raisins or prunes, oranges, sugar cane and cinnamon in a large stockpot with the water. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add sugar to taste, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. If adding brandy or other alcohol, add and simmer a few minutes longer. Serve hot in mugs. Serves 16-18.
NOTE: If sugar cane is unavailable, increase the amount of sugar added.