Horchata de Almendra

Libations | May 12, 2016 | By

For May’s Cook Book Club, we’re using ‘Mexico, One Plate at a Time’ by Rick Bayless.  Jim and I love Mexican cuisine, what we’ve enjoyed on our travels to the country, as well as what friends have made us, and what we’ve enjoyed when eating out.  Okay, eating out may not count every time in years past, since what we up here have historically called Mexican, is probably more of a Tex-Mex interpretation of it, not even close to what we know as fabulous Mexican cuisine today.

I won’t get into our first encounter with authentic Mexican tacos- I’ll leave that for another post.  Needless to say, our eyes were opened to the way they actually eat in Mexico, and we loved it.  And thankfully, in the past 10-15 years, North America has been introduced to so many authentic, wonderful dishes from Mexico, from Mexicans themselves, and those who’ve taken the time to explore the cuisine, beyond the box of dry taco shells and taco sauce in a pouch.

One of the first recipes that the book compelled me to try was Rick’s recipe for Horchata.  Funny, it’s not something I had come across, or maybe I did, but didn’t try because I was too busy enjoying margaritas!  It’s a lovely drink made from rice and almonds soaked overnight, and blended up with sugar and milk.  After I had tried my first batch, I was totally hooked.

There is something so creamy, sweet and yet light about this drink.  At first I was surprised that it was meant to be a cold drink.  But now I can totally see why.  It is soooo refreshing over ice.  And then I thought, I bet it would be amazing with rum.  Yeah, I went there.  It was!!  Kinda like a Pina Colada.  And then I learned that I wasn’t the first one to do this.  Apparently the RumChata is a real thing.  I wasn’t that brilliant after all. I’ve also tried it with tequila and triple sec and some fresh squeezed orange juice- how sublime.  So this is a keeper of a drink.  Both for morning breakfast (without the alcohol, right?), or afternoon cocktails!

You can totally switch this up, adding grated or flaked coconut to the rice and almonds, and changing the milk to coconut milk.  I’m already envisioning frozen treats using this drink!  Ice cream…

It’s great to have some drink recipes on hand for when you want to be refreshed on a hot day, when company comes over, or just for something healthy to sip on (you can totally control how sweet you make the Horchata)  I can totally see having even a half size recipe ready to go in the fridge at a moment’s notice.  Here’s hoping you’ll enjoy adding this to your collection! Ole! 

Horchata

Horchata

Horchata de Almendra
Serves 8
A creamy, refreshing cooler made from soaked and ground almonds and rice, hailing from Oaxaca. Add some rum or tequila and it's a fabulous cocktail!
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Ingredients
  1. 2/3 cup (5 oz) rice (I used long grain brown rice, but you can use white and medium grain)
  2. 1 1/4 cups (6 oz) blanched almonds
  3. 3 inch piece of cinnamon
  4. 2 1/2 cups water
  5. 2 cups milk (you can use almond, coconut, or cow's milk)
  6. 1 cup sugar (or to taste)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine the rice, almonds and cinnamon stick. Add the water. It should be hot tap water, or water from the kettle that has been cooled a bit) Cover and refrigerate overnight. (I left it for an extra night= 36 hours, which I think helped the grinding of the cinnamon stick)
  2. Pour the mixture into a blender, and add the sugar. Blend on high for several minutes until the mixture is as smooth as possible (it will still have a hint of grittiness, that's fine)
  3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve (or a sieve lined with cheesecloth) pressing on the solids until only a dryish pulp remains.
  4. Pour into a pitcher and add the remaining milk. Taste to see if you want more sugar.
  5. Serve over ice. In Oaxaca they serve it with cubed cantaloupe and broken pecans. (I liked the cantaloupe addition, too lazy to look for the pecans at the bottom of the freezer!)
Notes
  1. You could easily make this a rum cocktail by adding 1 or 1.5 oz of rum of choice to each glass before pouring in the horchata. Grate some extra cinnamon on top or how about some flaked coconut?
  2. You can also make a cocktail using 1 oz of tequila, 1/2 oz of triple sec, and a splash or more of orange juice to the horchata and ice.
Adapted from Mexico One Plate at a Time
Adapted from Mexico One Plate at a Time
The Lemon Apron http://www.thelemonapron.com/

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