I am SO excited about this post! Not becuase what I've made is anything new or particularly profound, but because THAT moment, when I realized I can make this at home - was pretty awesome. Until now, it was just a delicious beverage only available to me on holidays. One which I enjoyed over and over again.
The idea to look up recipes for this came to me the other day when it was a balmy 16 degrees and I was enjoying a dose of the sunshine in the backyard. I felt like a refreshing beverage that 1. wasn't water and 2. wasn't alcoholic ~ Horchata!
There are quite a few opinions on how to make this drink, some involve milk, no milk, lime, no lime, rice only, rice and almonds, the list goes on. I chose to make the more authentic version (no milk) and use both almonds and rice, but skip the lime as it can apparently add quite a bitter taste. Most recipes call for about 1/2 cup of sugar, and I wasn't planning on using that either. Mainly because sweetness is usually my number 1 complaint with this drink.
Now for the spice: Cinnamon is cinnamon is cinnamon right? Not a chance.
Cassia cinnamon is what you are likely used to and is what approx 70% of North America uses; however, this isn't the true cinnamon, also known as Ceylon. Ceylon is native to Sri Lanka and has a much more delicate taste than Cassia. It is also a lot more fragile in texture than the rock solid Cassia. Ceylon is also lighter in colour - and of course, the real deal can cost up to 10x more. Although these 2 varieties have some similarities, it's the levels of coumarin that is the major distinguishing factor between these rivals. Coumarin is a naturally occuring plant component that can be quite toxic in large amounts - Cassia has much more of this than Ceylon and can eventually cause damage to the liver if used in excess. There are quite a few interesting articles on this. Here is a link to just one of them if you wish to read more about it.
So off I went to purchase some Ceylon or "mexican" cinnamon - which authentic Horchata calls for. If you haven't been to the Silk Road Spice Merchant in Inglewood, you are missing out! Of course I was able to get my hands on the Sri Lankan true version, for a very reasonable price of about $7, which I didn't feel was excessive at all. Silk Road also offer an explanation of the different types of cinammon here.
To make a good Horchata - you must be able to grind the rice and cinnamon down to a powder. I started with the magimix, and then moved on to the blender - neither of these worked well at all. The only thing that did the trick, extremely efficiently, was the coffee grinder. To a powder in less than 3 mins! The other necessary item for this is a milk nut bag - another $7 from community foods.
Enough information already! This is a really easy recipe and I can not wait to sip it all summer over ice. And what's even better? This makes a DELICIOUS iced latte, as well as an awseome milk for your overnight oats.
A little less than 1 cup of rice (8 tbs)
1 cup blanched almonds
3 cups warm water & 2 cups cold water
1 stick Sri Lankan (Ceylon) cinnamon
1 tbs honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
Blanch your almonds. (So easy) Drop them into boiling water for exactly 1 min, no more. Strain them and allow to cool. Using your thumb and pointer finger, gently squeeze the almond and it will pop right out of it's skin. You will likely have some flying across the room so use the other hand to catch them.
Use your coffee grinder to pulse the rice into a fine powder. This is key to making this recipe work. Break up the cinnamon stick and also use the coffee grinder to turn this into a powder. Place rice, cinnamon and almonds into a jug or bowl and cover with 3 cups of warm/hot water. Leave overnight to soak.
The next day blend the overnight mixture until it's smooth, creamy and frothy. Add the addtional 2 cups of water and blend some more. Strain through the nut bag ~ don't rush this part, have patience my friend. It will result in a smoother horchata. Add your honey for sweetness - more if you fancy - same goes for the vanilla extract.
Store in the fridge and be sure to stir it up before you drink! Enjoy