Prep Time: 10 mins, plus overnight soak
Cook Time: 15 mins
Horchata is refreshing rice based beverage from Latin America. There are many versions of horchata some recipes being rich and milky while others are lighter and sweeter. Ingredients can include different nuts and seeds almonds, tigernuts, or sesame seeds, and different grains like barely instead of rice.
Recipes differ regionally because native ingredients and local tastes characterize horchata recipes. In Guatemala, the recipe calls for rice, water and always cinnamon with occasional extras like vanilla. Nicaragua and Honduras recipes also use a base of rice, but add in ground jicaro seeds (harvested from the hard fruit of a small tree) that are ground with the grains. They also use cold milk and sugar.
Recipes get a little more complex in Honduras and El Salvador. Here locals use a base of jicaro seeds and ground rice, modifying recipes with ground cocoa, cinnamon, sesame seeds, nutmeg, tigernuts, vanilla and large selection of nuts that grow there like peanuts and cashews. They also strain the drink before serving. In Puerto Rico, horchata is called horchata de ajonjolí, and made with ground sesame seeds boiled with sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon sticks, and soaked over night. The water is then squeezed through a cheese cloth and evaporated milk is added before serving. Extras added could be almonds, coconut milk, allspice or rum.
I think my recipe strikes a nice balance between heavy and light. I soak my rice with blanched almond for a deep flavor and I also whisk in a dairy-free milk for a creamy final touch. I do strain the mixture to make it smooth, but as far as horchata recipes go mine is pretty simple for the complex flavor!
Nutty Horchata Ingredients (4 generous servings):
- 2 1/2 cups of hot water
- 1 ¼ cup blanched almonds
- 3/4 cup of long grain rice (dry)
- 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 cup cold water
- 1/3 cup agave nectar (light looks prettier, but it doesn't matter to taste)
- *Optional: 1 cup dairy free milk
1. Combine the first six ingredients in a medium bowl. Allow the mixture to cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. The next day, pour the mix into a blender. Add the agave then blend on high for several minutes. You want the mixture to be as smooth as possible. Then slowly pour in one cup of cold water and blend for a few seconds. Try some, then add more agave to taste.
3. Next strain the mixture through a cheese cloth. Squeeze until only pulp remains in the cloth, It will take a little effort to get every last drop, but it is worth it.
4. Finally, whisk your milk of choice into the liquid and transfer into a container. I used to make single serve portions. Chill and serve over ice. Will keep in the refrigerator for several days.