Ponche de Tamarindo

The holidays are coming and the weather’s getting cooler, which means I’m already starting my countdown to Christmas and las posadas Navideñas in Mexico.

A few weekends ago, I attended the Kenmore blogger summit here in Chicago where I participated in a day of cooking challenges with some old and new food blogger friends. You can check out my team’s recipes at cookmore.com (but a heads up that they’re not Mexican recipes). My favorite team challenge was one where we had to create a beverage using a slow cooker. Naturally, I suggested we make a spinoff of my warm winter margarita recipe, but with a few modifications since tequila wasn’t an ingredient option.

Our creation was a spiced brandy apple cider that wowed the judges and won us the competition; my guess as to why the recipe was such a success is probably because it had more than a little piquete of brandy, wink wink. I’ve been tinkering with some new holiday recipes recently, and the challenge inspired me to adapt a ponche de tamarindo recipe with brandy that I’ve been working on for the slow cooker.

The punch has two tart elements: whole tamarind pods and flor de jamaica (hibiscus flowers), which are mellowed by the sweetness of the guava and piloncillo. The cinnamon and brandy give a woody depth, and overall, it’s a satisfying drink to warm you up on a cold night. And of course, it’d be perfect to serve for your posadas.


Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 2-2 1/2 hours


  • slow cooker or Crock Pot
  • cheesecloth and kitchen twine

For the spice bag:

  • 1/4 cup flor de jamaica (dried hibiscus flowers)
  • 2 Mexican cinnamon sticks
  • 4 guayabas Mexicanas (yellow Mexican guavas), ends sliced off and parted down the middle

For the punch, to put directly into the slow cooker:

  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 pound whole shelled tamarind pods
  • 8 ounces piloncillo (the small cones should be about 1 oz. each)
  • 3/4 cup brandy


First prepare the spice bag with the dried hibiscus flowers, guavas and cinnamon sticks. Place the ingredients inside a piece of doubled up cheesecloth that is big enough to accomodate the cinnamon sticks and be tied shut with the kitchen twine. (If you prefer, you can leave the guavas out of the spice bag and then ladle them into cups when the punch is ready. I like to put them in the spice bag so the seeds don’t come loose.)

Add the water, tamarind, piloncillo and brandy to the slow cooker and submerge the spice bag. Turn the slow cooker on high and put the lid on. Cook for 2-2 1/2 hours, stirring periodically. Turn off the slow cooker and ladle into mugs. You can discard the tamarind pods at the bottom of the slow cooker or use them for something else.

Yields about 7 1/2 cups.

  • Do you have a favorite way to use tamarind around the holidays?


  1. says

    Ooohhhhh I don’t think I’ve had Tamarindo before. But I like all the other ingredients – this makes for a perfect toasty pick me up on a cold winter night.

    So if I ever make it to Chicago, I’ll let you know so you can whip up a batch of this good stuff for me 😀

  2. says

    Tamarindo is my weakness! I must try this recipe during the holidays. The Guayabas are a nice touch. They always remind me of my family crossing back from Juarez to El Paso. We had to eat an entire bag full of guayabas before we got to the crossing gate because we weren’t allowed to cross them over. The problem with that was that they are so fragrant that every time we crossed the border we would get searched because customs could smell them on us. They were so good, they were worth the search every time.

  3. says

    Yummm! I LOVE Ponche de Tamarindo! It’s the one thing I look forward to most on Nochebuena. My concuña makes a BIG pot of Ponche de Tamarindo each year for Christmas, with all kinds of yummy fruits and pecans. And for the grown-ups, she adds a whole bottle of tequila. :) I just love how festive the combination of tamarind, cinnamon, and guava smells. Just like Christmas! :) Ya se me antojo, Maura!

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