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Jocotes en Miel is a traditional Guatemalan food commonly served around the Day of the Dead celebrations. These juicy jocotes (hog plums) are cooked in a bubbling sweet syrup and heavenly spices. This post will teach you how to prepare this simple yet delicious Guatemalan recipe perfect for the Día de Los Muertos festivities. So, surprise your family with this traditional Guatemalan dish you can now enjoy any day!
Day of the Dead Celebrations in Guatemala
The Dia de Los Muertos celebrations in Guatemala are a bit different from the traditions followed for Day of the Dead in Mexico, which are better known around the world. In Guatemala November 1st marks the Dia de Todos Los Santos or All Saints Day, this is the day in which most of the celebrations take place in Guatemala which differs from the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico, which take place on November 2nd.
On All Saints Day, people get together to remember loved ones and eat traditional dishes like fiambre, chilacayotes, and jocotes en miel. All Saints Day is also the day in which many families visit loved ones at the cemetery and leave them flowers. Other famous Day of the Dead Guatemalan traditions like flying the Giant Kites also takes place on All Saints Day on November 1st which is a national holiday.
The Day of the Dead falls on November 2nd, this is the day when most celebrations take place in Mexico. However, very few people celebrate on November 2nd in Guatemala and most of the traditions surrounding loved ones that have passed away take place on November 1st.
Jocotes en Miel, the Perfect Guatemalan Dessert for Day of the Dead
I am a big believer that a good family lunch should always end with something sweet. And these jocotes en miel is a traditional Guatemalan dessert that not only goes great with the Guatemalan Fiambre but with everyday meals.
Hey, wait a minute, but what are jocotes? Well, let me tell you: jocotes are tropical fruit native of the Americas. The word jocote comes from the Nahuatl xocotl, meaning fruit. You might know them as spondias, mombin, red mombin, hog plum, or you might not know them at all.
In case you have never tried jocotes, you are missing out. As a kid I loved eating a raw jocote with a little bit of salt, so delicious! Jocotes are also used in preserves or simmered into tasty desserts like this yummy Guatemalan dish. For this jocotes en miel recipe, I boiled the hog plums slowly into a rich almíbar (syrup) made from water, cinnamon, and sugar (although typically panela is used).
Panela is a cube of unrefined whole cane sugar. It is obtained from boiling and evaporation of sugarcane juice. It also goes by other names across Latin America, such as piloncillo in Mexico, raspadura in Cuba, or chancaca in Chile and Peru.
I used regular granulated sugar for this recipe, but you can exchange it for panela for a slightly different taste that is more traditional. I have tried both versions, and honestly, I can’t tell the difference! The one thing I do know is that my kids love eating fresh jocotes while waiting for this syrupy dessert to be ready.
What are Guatemalan Jocotes En Miel?
The closest translation I can find for jocotes en miel would be “hog plums in honey,” even though honey here means a sugary syrup or almíbar. Jocotes en miel is a Guatemalan dish prepared as a dessert to take to the graveyard as part of Día de Los Muertos and All Saints Day (Day of the Dead) traditions on November 1st.
The idea is that people bring food that doesn’t need heating up or spoils easily when visiting family and friends that have passed away at the cemetery. This is a symbolic gesture that is believed to entice deceased loved ones to come back for a visit.
How to Make Traditional Guatemalan Jocotes en Miel:
- 20 jocotes (hog plums or red mombins)
- 1 liter of water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 star anise
- 2 whole cloves
- ½ pound of regular sugar (or panela)
- Additional water
- Wash the jocotes well and make three small cuts around with a knife. This is to prevent the jocotes from bursting open (much like cranberries do when cooked).
- Ona large pot, bring the water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the jocotes, the cinnamon sticks, the star anise, and cloves.
- Cook over medium heat for two hours until the jocotes are softer and have busted open.
- Add the sugar or panela and cook over low heat for one more hour without stirring so that the jocotes remain whole and well honeyed.
- You can add more water if necessary. Just be careful not to overdo it and end up with a runny syrup.
- Serve the jocotes warm or cold in a deep dish bathed in its sweet syrup.
Make Ahead of Time
With this easy Guatemalan recipe for jocotes en miel, you can cook everything on the same day! If you wish, you can also make it in advance and keep it in your refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 15 days.
I like to make this dish a couple of days earlier since the simmering process could be a little time-consuming. And besides, having a sweet treat at hand when you are craving Guatemalan food is not a bad idea at all! The only problem is keeping my kids away until it is time to sit down and eat.
Tips for making Jocotes en Miel:
- To shorten the prep time, you can skip making the cuts on the jocotes. Instead, many Guatemalans simply prick the fruit with a fork or throw everything on the pot and let them “explode” when cooked.
- If you don’t like the spicy taste of cloves or star anise, you can leave them out. As far as the cinnamon, I wouldn’t take it out as it instills the dish with an incredible aroma and a sweet woody flavor.
- Take it slow and steady when adding more water throughout the simmering process. You want to make a rich syrup that is not too thick and is easy to pour.
- If you can’t find panela (or piloncillo) at a Mexican store near you, regular granulated sugar will do just fine. You can also use brown sugar instead of white sugar; adding a little less than ½ pound should be enough.
What Are the Most Traditional Guatemalan Foods for Día De Los Muertos?
On November 1st, Dia de Todos Los Santos, the “Chapín” (Guatemalan) families gather for an authentic gastronomic feast to celebrate the Day of the Dead. Fiambre is the most well-known traditional food eaten during this Guatemalan celebration. Each family has its own recipe, passed down from one generation to the next.
Jocotes en miel, torrejas, and chilacayotes are the typical Guatemalan desserts served at the festivities right after the fiambre.
Since I have a sweet tooth, I find this traditional Guatemalan food to be the perfect ending to any big meal. And with this recipe, now you don’t have to wait until November 1st to have a bowl of delicious jocotes en miel.
Other Traditional Guatemalan Dessert Recipes
- Canillitas de Leche: Try a quick and easy recipe for canillitas, a delicious 10-minute dessert that uses only three ingredients you already have in your pantry.
- Guatemalan Buñuelos: A fried wheat-based dough balls, crisp on the outside and soft inside, covered in white sugar. Serve this delicious Guatemalan dessert in a light syrup your kids will love!
- Easy Pineapple Empanadas: These easy-to-make empanadas are a great dessert or a quick sweet snack. They travel well and are perfect for entertaining, ideal for picnics, BBQs, or potlucks.
- Champurradas: A super easy recipe that will surely be a total success with everyone in the family! A scrumptious giant cookie with the perfect level of crunch to dunk in your morning coffee!
- Rellenitos de Plátano: They are ripe plantains filled with beans and covered in sugar. Although the combination might seem strange, this sweet plantain recipe is one of the most delicious Guatemalan foods.
If you are a sweets lover like me, jocotes en miel is one of the Guatemalan desserts you must try! Jocotes are a traditional Guatemalan food prepared across many homes on November 1st on All Saints Day, for Day of the Dead festivities. But with this easy recipe, they are now an excellent choice for any time of the year! Please leave a comment and tell me what other family traditions or Guatemalan dishes you do for the Day of the Dead festivities.
Serving Size: 1 jocote
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 25