Legend of the Poinsettia
The legends states that there was once a young Mexican girl named Pepita who was very poor and had no gift to offer the Christ Child at Christmas Eve services. She was terribly sad as she walked to the chapel in her village.
Not knowing what else to do, she bent down by the roadside and picked some flowering weeds to take as an offering to the Nativity.
As she sauntered up to the altar, she remembered the kind words her little friend Pedro had told her, "Even the most humblest of gifts, if given in love, are acceptable in His eyes". She felt her spirits lift a little.
As she lay the bouquet of weeds down, they burst into a brilliant bloom of red. Everyone at the chapel was certain they had witnessed a Christmas miracle.
From that day on, the bright flowers were known as the "Flores de Nochebuena", the Flowers of Christmas Eve, for now they bloom each year during the Christmas season.
A colorful and enjoyable Christmas tradition in the Hispanic culture: "Las Posadas". This celebration takes place from December 16th to December 24th, Christmas Eve. It is the re-enactment of the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem endured by Joseph and Mary while seeking shelter before the Christ Child was born. Posada, in Spanish, means lodging. In each one of these nights, two children, a boy and a girl, pose as Mary and Joseph. Other children act as angels and shepherds. Candles are held by each and everyone to light the way. Meanwhile parents and neighbors walk behind them as the multitude, singing and saying prayers. If the Posada is acted out in a neighborhood, a stop is made in several homes, where Mary and Joseph ask for shelter and they are turned down. At the last stop, they are welcomed, and the party begins. A piñata is provided for the children while special seasonal foods are laid out for all to enjoy. The feast usually includes tamales, capirotada, champurrado, buñuelos, and hot Mexican chocolate. Look for these recipes in the index and create your own Las Posadas Feast.
½ cup fresh masa (corn dough) or 1/2-cup masa flour (masa harina) mixed with a 1/4-cup hot water to blend
2 1/4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 disk Mexican Chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons piloncillo, chopped or 1/3-cup brown sugar plus 2
Cinnamon stick (optional)
1/4 teaspoon crushed anise seeds (optional)
Place the water and the masa into the jar of a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a medium sized saucepan. Add the milk, chocolate, piloncillo (or sugar, molasses combination) and the anise seeds if you wish to use them. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking with a molinillo or whisk until the chocolate and sugar is melted and well blended. Strain the mixture through a medium sieve (optional) and serve hot, in mugs.
Capirotada (de Chocolate)
8 slices of pound cake, cubed
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup dried cherries or raisins
1 medium granny smith apple
1 cup Jack cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a glass-baking dish.
Place half the pound cake cubes into the baking dish.
Mix eggs, milk, cinnamon and brown sugar and pour half of this mixture over the top of the cake cubes in dish.
Sprinkle half pecans, cherries or raisins, apple, and cheese on top.
Add another layer of pound cake cubes followed by the egg mixture and remaining ingredients. Top with chocolate sauce.
Bake 25 minutes or until cheese has melted. Serve with remaining chocolate sauce if desired.
1 cup half and half
1 stick cinnamon
½ disk Mexican Chocolate, chopped
Combine half and half and cinnamon stick in medium sauce pan and heat to scalding. Lower heat and add chocolate. Whisk until chocolate melts and remove from heat. Remove cinnamon stick before using.
Traditional Capirotada (Bread Pudding)
8 slices bread, toasted
3 eggs, beaten
5 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup toasted, slivered almonds
½ cup unsalted peanuts
½ cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup raisins
1 medium apple, pared, cored, and thinly sliced
1 cup Jack cheese, cut into small cubes
Preheat oven to 350º. Butter a square-baking dish.Place four bread slices in pan. Mix eggs, milk, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Pour half of milk, eggs, and sugar mixture on top. Sprinkle with half of remaining ingredients. Add another layer of bread and repeat as above. Top Capirotada with *Panocha Syrup and bake 25 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm or reheat, covered, for 15 minutes. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
Combine ingredients in a medium size saucepan. Bring syrup to a boil. Lower heat and simmer approximately 15 minutes until syrup is slightly thickened. Remove cinnamon stick.