Recipe of the Month – Ponche Navideno

by Simone Riddle

December: the month of posadas. If you have developed a friendship with any catholic families during your time in Xela, you’ll eventually be invited to participate in una posada: a nightly religious street procession in the run up to Christmas which ends with a visit to the home of one of the participating families. Ponche is a popular drink to be served at one of these gatherings. It’s the perfect drink ‘para quitar el frio’. In fact, that makes it perfect for any night in Xela.

Forget the packet version you’ll find in La Despensa. Impress friends in Guate and back home with this Christmas winter warmer. Here’s the alcohol-free version. You get to decide how much Quetzalteca to add!


  • One ripe pineapple
  • 6 apples (local apples from the market will be fine, but watch out for the worms!)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 onzas of raisons (pasas)
  • 8 onzas of prunes (ciruelas)
  • 4 whole peppercorns (pimientas gordas)
  • 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 6 cups of water.

All the ingredients can be bought from the market.


1.    Scrub the whole of the pineapple. Cut off the top and split in two horizontally

2.    Finely chop the pineapple inside of the skin by scoring lines one way across then the other. Scrape out the chopped pineapple and continue to dice into very small cubes. Divide the pineapple skin into four quarters and set aside, these will go into the ponche to add flavor

3.    Peel the apples and finely chop avoiding the cores. put into a bowl filled with water to prevent the flesh from browning

4.    Quarter the prunes removing any stones. I added whole raisons (they swell when cooked) but you might want to halve or quarter them

5.    Add the water to a large pan and bring to boiling point

6.    Add all the chopped pineapple (including the skins), the apples, peppercorns, and cinnamon sticks and cook over a fairly low heat until the fruit is just about soft, stirring occasionally

7.    Add the remaining ingredients; the prunes, raisons, sugar and salt and cook again until the fruit’s soft (about 5-10 minutes) stirring occasionally

8.    When ready remove the pineapple skins and serve hot. This drink gets better over time as the flavors infuse. The fruit absorbs a lot of the water so you may need to keep topping it up with more water before you heat it up. Watch out for the peppercorns and cinnamon when serving.

Enjoy las festividades navidenas a la chapín.

My food blog online can be found at: http://recetasguatemaltecasymas.


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