Head back in time to a world without soda and it'll be much easier to find a refreshing glass of Horchata.
Or you can skip the time machine and make your own batch at home.
Horchata is one of Mexico's most common agua frescas and this easy-to-make recipe is perfect if you're new to this rice-flavored drink.
In addition to the above glass of Horchata that you can use to tasteboggle your friends and family, it's also worth keeping in mind that you can use Horchata flavoring to create all sorts of other goodies in the kitchen (more on that below).
Here are the key ingredients:
So in the above pic you've got:
1 cup white, long grain rice
3/4 cup raw almonds
1 cinnamon stick
Use raw almonds if you've got 'em but I've used roasted almonds before and still gotten a good result. You can also substitute a half teaspoon of ground cinnamon for the cinnamon stick.
Purists will blanch the almonds to remove the skins but I'm in the habit of skipping that step.
Add the rice to a blender or food processor and grind it down as much as you can.
Add the almonds, cinnamon stick, 1/4 cup sugar, and 4 cups warm water. Combine well.
We're only adding 1/4 cup sugar at this point to give you some sweetness options later on; most likely you're going to want to sweeten it up a bit more down the road.
And now the hard part...
You have to let this soak overnight in the fridge. This will give the flavors time to infuse into the water (and into your night-time dreams). Yes, you could soak it for only a few hours and still come up with a decent version, but it's more common to soak it overnight.
When tomorrow rolls around pull it out of the fridge and give it another blend; some of the solid bits will have softened and will break up further in this final blend.
At this point you've got the flavor foundation in place. This is a partially sweetened, concentrated Horchata base that gives you a few options.
For groups, add another 4 cups of cold water to the blender along with another 1/2 cup of sugar. Blend until it's as smooth as you can get it.
The final step is to strain it and discard any grainy bits. Straining through a fine mesh sieve should do the job; you can also line the strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth if you have some on hand.
Once strained, serve over ice and feel free to give a final dash of cinnamon.
You should have 8 cups worth of silky smooth Horchata and so far you've added 3/4 cup sugar to the whole batch. Feel free to accommodate any sweet tooths in the house with a bit more sugar (or agave, honey, etc.)
While this version is perfect for groups and working in tandem with spicy meals, I want to mention the other option that I frequently use.
Sometimes I keep the more concentrated version on hand instead of adding the additional water to it, i.e. the version that rested overnight in the fridge that only has 4 cups of water. This rice-nut-cinnamon flavor bomb can be used to create some incredible milkshakes and smoothies. (Note: this version gets strained as well to remove the grainy bits.)
My favorite lately is to add a few servings of this to a blender along with coconut milk and ice (and sometimes vanilla protein powder). Give it a whirl and you've a got a meal on your hands.
Coconut seems to get along really well with the rice-nut-cinnamon crew, these Coconut Horchata Paletas are further proof of that:
And if it's that time of day feel free to confirm the following: rum gets along really well with Horchata too!
However you decide to serve it, I think it's worth adding Horchata to your flavor arsenal.
Okay, in the recipe box below I'll list out instructions for the traditional, 8 cup version that works well for groups. But keep in mind that you always have the option of keeping the concentrated 4 cup version on hand to turn your kitchen into a Horchata research lab.
Let me know if you have any questions. Buen Provecho!
Mexican Horchata: Rice and Almond Drink
- 1 cup dry, uncooked white rice
- 3/4 cup raw almonds
- 1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
- 8 cups water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Add 1 cup white rice to a blender or food processor and grind it as fine as you can.
- Add 3/4 cup raw almonds, 1 cinnamon stick, 1/4 cup sugar and only 4 cups of warm water. Blend together.
- Let this mixture sit overnight in the fridge.
- The next day, give it another blend and then add 4 cups of cold water and another 1/2 cup sugar. Combine well and taste for sweetness, adding more sugar if needed.
- Strain the mixture and discard the leftover solids. Using a fine mesh sieve works but you can also add a few layers of cheesecloth to it if you want.
- Serve immediately over ice and optionally add a final dash of cinnamon.
Like Horchata? Then you'll love these heartwarming Champurrados.
And here's how to make a batch of Agua de Jamaica.
Or maybe you want to try our most recent recipe: Rajas!