This warm, spiced Mexican punch is traditionally served at Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations. It is made by simmering Mexican fruits, sugar cane and spices until fragrant.
Bring 4 cups of the water, hibiscus and tamarind to boil in heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan. Remove from heat. Let stand at least 15 minutes to extract flavor from hibiscus and tamarind.
Meanwhile, press cloves into orange quarters. Set aside.
Strain hibiscus mixture into large (8-quart) stock pot or Dutch oven. Discard solids. Add remaining 12 cups water, piloncillo, sugar cane sticks, cinnamon sticks and clove-studded orange quarters. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 40 minutes to blend flavors. Stir in tejocotes, apples, prunes and raisins. Simmer 20 minutes or until fruit is tender.
To serve, ladle punch and fruit into serving mugs. Serve with sugar cane sticks, if desired.
• Dried hibiscus flowers, also known as sorrel or Flor de Jamaica, are the edible flowers of the Hibiscus sabdariffa. They are popular in beverages and desserts in the Caribbean, Mexico, Africa and Asia. The dried flowers can be purchased whole, ground or in syrup in ethnic markets or online specialty stores.
• Tamarind pods and fresh sugar cane can be found in Latin or Asian markets.
• Piloncillo, also known as panela, is made by boiling unrefined cane sugar and pressing into solid form, usually a cone shape. It tastes very similar to brown sugar with a molasses flavor (even though it does not contain molasses). Substitute 1 cup packed dark brown sugar and 1 tablespoon molasses for each 8-ounce cone of piloncillo.
• Tejocotes, is a crabapple-like fruit from the mountains of Mexico. Since fresh tejocotes may be difficult to find, use drained jarred tejocotes instead. Jarred tejocotes can be found in Latin markets or online specialty stores.
• Guavas are also typically added to the punch. Add 6 guavas (fresh or jarred), quartered, during the last 10 minutes of simmering to prevent overcooking.
Serving Suggestion: Add brandy or rum to the warm punch.