Toasted Horchata

Horchata is a rice based beverage that is one of many popular aguas frescas found throughout Mexico.  This refreshing milky beverage, with a touch of cinnamon, is dairy free. It’s a unique drink made by soaking and blending rice, and some versions are even creamier with the addition of nuts.  I’ve added toasted almonds to my recipe for a version that transforms into dreamy Horchata Popsicles.  A little planning is key as this recipe tastes best when soaked overnight. It’ll be worth the wait especially if you share it spiked for the most intriguing cocktail. 

Toasted Horchata

Servings: 6 cups

Rice Blend

1 ½ cups long grain white rice

½ cup whole raw almonds

4-inch long cinnamon stick

4 cups hot tap water

Cinnamon Tea

4 cups water

¾ cup sugar

special equipment: fine mesh sieve or colander lined with cheesecloth

1 4-inch long cinnamon stick, broken apart

Rice Blend

1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, toast dry rice until pale brown, 4-5 minutes.  Transfer rice to blender and pulse until finely chopped into a sandy texture.  Transfer to large bowl and set aside.

2. Place almonds in the skillet and cook until toasted in spots, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop.  Transfer to bowl with rice.

3. Place cinnamon stick in skillet and cook until heated through, fragrant and toasted in spots. When cool enough to handle, break apart and transfer to bowl with rice. 

4. Add hot tap water to the bowl with rice, almonds and cinnamon.  Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Refrigerate for 5 hours and up to overnight.

Cinnamon Tea

1.  In a sauce pan, bring water, sugar and cinnamon stick to a boil just until sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes.  Remove cinnamon stick after steeping.

Blending the Horchata

1. Pour refrigerated rice, almonds, cinnamon and water into a blender and blend until pureed. 

2. Working in batches, pour through a fine mesh sieve (or a colander lined with a cheesecloth) set over a bowl.  Use a spoon to stir and drain the liquid through the sieve.  Reserve the liquid and discard the solids. You should have about 3 cups of rice water. 

3. Blend rice water with cinnamon tea and refrigerate. Serve chilled topped with a dash of cinnamon, or use to make Horchata Popsicles.