It’s mid May, and before you know it, it will be swelteringly hot outside. That’s what happens here in Toronto.
One week we are scraping the ice off our car windshields, and the next week we are dripping in sweat and sitting in front of air conditioners. The weather here seems to turn on a dime.
So, even though we just put away the woolens and tights, it’s time to be thinking about ice cream. And margaritas, and grilling burgers, and eating on patios. Of course, ice cream is great year round, just ask Jim. As far as he is concerned, no dessert is complete unless ice cream is part of the dish, no matter what time of year it is. You can make the fanciest galette, and he will still demand that a huge scoop of ice cream be dropped in the middle of it! But it’s warm, so I especially crave ice cream now!
Our kitchen world truly did change when we got an ice cream maker. Suddenly the ice cream options had no boundaries. And I’ve had sooo much fun creating new flavour combos. There’s a good little collection happening here on the blog already: Chestnut Ice Cream, Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Ice Cream, Roasted Plum and Cardamom Ice Cream, Masala Chai Gelato, and even a Ginger Gelato. And today I will add to the collection with this Horchata Ice Cream.
I first discovered Horchata when we were cooking from Rick Bayless’ book, Mexico, One Plate at a Time a few years back. I was totally intrigued with this almond and cinnamon drink that starts with soaking rice, almonds and a cinnamon stick in water overnight. Sounds a little weird, eh? But trust me, it’s so worth it! I actually let mine soak a bit longer, so that the cinnamon stick is sufficiently softened so that I don’t need to fish it out before putting everything in the blender to whip up. Sugar and more milk are added, and next thing you know, you’ve got a great refreshing summer drink. Of course, after puréeing, everything gets pushed through a strainer so that you are left with a smooth drink. Just imagine this fabulous flavour combo with rum or tequila added to it and served over ice!! Yeah baby!
After making batch after batch, I thought, ‘Jen, this would make a great ice cream base.’ So that’s what I decided to do. Yes, I did head over to good ole Pinterest to see if anyone else thought as brilliantly (!) as I did. And I found out that a fellow foodie did! Lauren of ‘Tasty Type’ had come up with the same idea, back in 2008. She was also inspired by Rick Bayless’ recipe.
So, I figured, instead of starting at square one, I would see how she pulled it together. Yep, pretty well exactly what I thought. Make the horchata concentrate, and then create a classic custard based ice cream and then combine the two. I would follow her lead. The only difference I would make, is the addition of some crunch throughout the final ice cream. Jim loves almonds, and since Horchata is an almond based drink, why not run with the whole almond theme?! The other flavour component in the drink is the cinnamon, and I adore cinnamon, so I would somehow combine the almonds and cinnamon for some candy crunch. I decided to candy chopped almonds (whole almonds would be too large, agreed?) in a coating of simple syrup flavoured with cinnamon. Everything gets stirred together and once the liquid is almost all evaporated, everything gets transferred to a wax paper lined baking sheet. In no time these dry and cool down into the best little candied almond! The hard part is not snacking on them all before they are needed in the ice cream.
When ready, the ice cream base is added to your ice cream maker in the usual way and frozen. Once it’s done in the machine, start layering it into your freezer safe container. Some containers need to be set in the freezer ahead of time- just check what you are using. I have one ‘official’ container for ice cream which is insulated. If that one is already full, I just use a good ole loaf pan! Just make sure you cover the surface with plastic wrap and then seal with aluminum foil before placing it in the freezer to set up. Back to the layering: Take about 1/3 of the ice cream and spread out in the container. Sprinkle a good handful of the candied almonds all over and gently stir in. Add more ice cream and then more nuts. Keep going till all the ice cream is used up, and a good amount of the nuts. I’m going to say you’ll use about 1/2 – 2/3 cups of the nuts. I’ll let you decide how much you want to add. There will be more nuts leftover- those are for snacking!!
This ice cream will need to set at least 5 hours. And then pull it out about 15 minutes before serving. Of course this will taste great in a cone or with cake. But can you just imagine it as an affogato, whether with coffee or Amaretto?! Here’s to a great summer of ice cold drinks, grilled meats and salads of all kinds, and plenty of ice cream!!
Horchata Candied Almond Ice Cream
That fabulous thirst quenching Mexican drink made from almonds, rice and cinnamon gets turned into a rich, refreshing ice cream. Cinnamon Candied Almonds get added to the ice cream for crunch and flavour! Perfect in a cone, or as a Amaretto Affogato!
Cinnamon Candied Almonds
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 1/4 cups raw almonds chopped
- 2/3 cup long-grain white rice
- 1 1/4 cups blanched almonds
- 3- inch piece of cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk or water, if you're only making horchata and not ice cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup cream
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Combine the water, sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil; add the almonds.
Cook and stir the mixture until the liquid evaporates and leaves a syrup-like coating on the almonds.
Pour the almonds onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper.
Separate almonds using forks. Allow to cool about 15 minutes. Store in a sealed container.
Heat the milk (or water) over low heat until it comes to a simmer. In a bowl, combine the rice, cinnamon stick, and almonds. Pour the warm milk over the rice and stir together. Let cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for 24 hours plus. The longer you let it rest, the softer the cinnamon stick becomes, and you can leave it in the liquid when ready to blend.
Add the sugar and then whiz in a blender. You'll want to blend it on high until completely smooth, several minutes.
Strain through a fine sieve lined with a cheesecloth. Use a spoon to press the solids against the sieve to extract as much liquid as possible. (I don't use a cheesecloth, I just use the fine mesh sieve. This will make the liquid a bit more gritty (but not in a bad way- I like it this way)
You should have between 1 1/2 and 2 cups of horchata concentrate. Refrigerate till needed. When getting ready to make the ice cream, remove from the fridge and pour into a quart container and put a strainer on top.
Horchata Ice Cream
Warm milk and cream to a simmer over medium heat.
While the milk is warming, whisk together the egg yolks in a separate bowl.
When the milk is warm, very slowly. and whisking constantly, pour the milk mixture into the bowl of egg yolks. Whisk together and then pour it all back into the saucepan.
Heat the custard mixture over low heat, stirring or whisking constantly. Keep whisking until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. (You can test it by running your finger down the back of the spoon. If it leaves a trail, you're done.) Take it off the heat immediately.
Pour the custard through the strainer into the horchata mixture. Add the ground cinnamon and whisk well to combine.
Cover the surface of the liquid with plastic wrap. Let cool and then transfer to the fridge overnight.
Freeze in ice cream maker according to its instructions. I usually transfer the custard mixture to a pitcher of some sort so that it is easier to pour into the machine's bowl.
When spooning the ice cream into your freezer container, layer ice cream with a good handful of the candied almonds- add enough to create a good crunch, but not so much that it takes over the ice cream! Keep layering until all the ice cream is used up. You should have nuts left over (if not, you have A LOT of nuts in the finished product!!) These nuts are for snacking, because you know you want to!
If your freezer container is not insulated, cover the surface of the ice cream with plastic wrap, tightly. Then wrap everything with aluminum foil.
Allow it to set for a good 4-5 hours before serving. Take out of the freezer about 15 minutes or so before serving.
Makes about a quart.
(To make horchata for drinking, blend base with 2 more cups of milk or cold water. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if necessary. Serve over ice.)
See the original Horchata recipe here.
Ice cream recipe inspired by Lauren of Tasty Type, here.
Candied Almonds inspired by this recipe here. If you just want to make the candied almonds, don't chop them- they will be easier to snack on whole!
Both the Candied Almonds and the Horchata Concentrate can be made in advance.