I hate punch. Well, I hate most non-alcoholic punch. It’s usually too sweet for me, and filled with weird artificial colors and sweeteners. A good sangria I’ll take any day, but that wasn’t really an option for a baby shower. So, when I was planning my sister’s recent baby shower I set out to make a not-too-sweet, not-artificially-colored, pink punch that would please my picky palate.
I think I found it in this easy raspberry lemonade, sweetened with cane sugar and pink-ified with raspberry puree. I wish I could tell you that I made the lemonade part of this with locally grown, meyer lemons lovingly hand-squeezed by yours truly. But I can’t. I was too busy to squeeze enough lemon juice to make this punch from scratch so I turned to Cascadian Farms’ Organic Frozen Lemonade from concentrate. The frozen concentrate was a real time saver, and at least the lemon garnishes on the punch glasses were made with locally grown lemons.
If you’ve read my blog the past few days, you’ll know that this baby shower was book-themed. The deep pink of the raspberries reminded me of one of my favorite literary characters: Olivia the pig. Olivia’s Opposites is a great board book that introduces little ones to Olivia and, as the title suggests, the concept of opposites. Hot, cold. Big, small. Plain, and fancy. Of course, this raspberry lemonade looks plenty fancy in a pitcher garnished with fresh raspberry ice cubes and meyer lemon wedges. We played up the idea of opposites by putting “plain” tap water in a pitcher next to the “fancy” punch. Here are the menu cards I designed to accompany the pitchers, borrowing Ian Falconer’s wonderful illustrations of Olivia.
Fancy Raspberry Lemonade (recipe fills two, 76 oz. sangria pitchers)
1o oz. package organic, frozen raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 cans of organic frozen lemonade concentrate
2 liters unsweetened, sparkling water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 pint fresh raspberries
Ice cube trays
1 lemon, cut into 15 wedges
A day ahead of service, prepare the garnishes: place one fresh raspberry in each well of an ice-cube tray. Fill tray with water and freeze until ice cubes are solid. Repeat until all the fresh raspberries are encased in fancy ice cubes. (Frozen berries will work for this, but I had a hard time breaking them into single berries. Fresh berries were faster and prettier in the end.) Slice fresh lemon into wedges for garnish. Use a paring knife to score the membrane between the lemon segments so that they balance easily on the edge of the punch cups.
To make the punch: Empty the bag of frozen raspberries into a small bowl and cover with 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Allow berries to sit at room temperature for half an hour or so. Puree macerated berries in a blender or food processor until completely liquefied. Strain raspberry puree through a sieve to remove any seeds, then set aside.
Combine sparkling water and lemonade concentrate in a large punch bowl or two 76 oz. pitchers, with the ratio of one can lemonade to one liter sparkling water. Stir very slowly; the water will bubble up a lot when it hits the lemonade. Once bubbling has subsided, add raspberry puree to lemonade and stir to combine.
Garnish fancy cups: Rim punch cups with sugar by rubbing a lemon wedge along the top edge of each cup and dipping edge in a shallow bowl of granulated sugar. Garnish each cup with a lemon wedge. Place a few raspberry ice cubes in each cup and add pretty pink punch. Voila! Olivia would be proud!