Have you ever tried horchata? It’s a cool and refreshing beverage, creamy and sweet with notes of vanilla and cinnamon. Even though it’s silky and luscious, it’s very light, making it a perfect companion on a hot summer day.
As with many deep-rooted traditional recipes, there are as many variations as there are families making them. Like spaghetti sauce or meatloaf, your favorite is probably whatever your grandmother made.
Now I’m not here to step on any abuela’s toes. My goal was to come up with an authentic horchata recipe that was very easy and inexpensive, yet full of traditional flavors. I enlisted help from my extended family of foodie friends and I’m confident everyone will enjoy this take on classic horchata.
The complete name is “Agua de Horchata” which translates to Rice Water. It’s a traditional milky beverage made from rice, water, cinnamon, milk, sugar, and vanilla. The rice is first soaked overnight, then blended and strained to make a smooth puree. Sweetened condensed milk and sometimes evaporated milk and vanilla are added for sweetness, then additional water is added to balance out the flavors.
Horchata, originally made in Valencia, Spain, has become a popular refreshment around the world. It’s my understanding that it was first made without any dairy so street vendors could safely sell it with questionable refrigeration and it wouldn’t spoil. Almonds were added to fill it out and add creaminess. Therefore, it’s traditionally dairy free but most every recipe I researched has some form of dairy milk added. You can make this dairy free or vegan by using alternative milks like coconut, cashew or almond milk in place of cow’s milk and adding more sugar.
AGUA DE HORCHATA
What You’ll Need:
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 sticks cinnamon
5 cups water – divided
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a bowl, combine rice, cinnamon sticks, and 2 cups hot water. Soak for 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Remove cinnamon sticks and transfer to a blender. Process until as smooth as humanly possible. This will take a few minutes. There will be rice solids that have a sandy texture. Some people don’t mind this. Personally, I didn’t care for it. It’s up to you. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer. I tried cheesecloth also but found the strainer to be faster.
You’ll likely need to rinse the strainer a few times before the job is done. Once strained to your satisfaction, add sweetened condensed milk, sugar, vanilla and salt. You can put it back into the blender to do this, so it’ll be lovely and frothy. Place it into your pitcher and add water (at least 3 cups, one cup at a time) to taste. Keep chilled until serving time and serve over ice.
Now that you have delicious horchata – try these ideas! Add to vanilla ice cream for awesome milkshakes. Make popsicles. Add to iced coffee for a horchata latte. For the grown-ups, add a little rum or coconut vodka and invite me over for a cocktail. Abuela won’t mind.
Frugal foods contributed by Patti Diamond, from Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! www.divasonadime.com Join us on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.