Horchata is one of those things I instinctively order at a Mexican restaurant. I’m usually a straight up “water only” person in restaurants to the despair of my waiter but when it comes to horchata, it’s almost always included in my order. It cools the heat of salsa and it’s a nice dessert on its own.
Unfortunately, most places don’t offer up a free refill of horchata. And my devious plan of asking for little or no ice sometimes backfires: the horchata is too strong or there’s too much rice sediment in the mixture. So lately my feelings towards horchata have soured until I made my own batch.
The secret to this horchata is letting the rice, cinnamon and water sit for an extended period — at least 6 hours — to allow maximum absorption of the ricey flavor. And to my surprise, horchata actually does include a little bit of milk. I tend to like my horchata a little less sweet so this recipe can be adjusted to your own taste.
The key to serving horchata is to alway mix it prior to serving to avoid a sediment-heavy last serving. No one wants to drink liquid sand.
The toughest part of this recipe is the cleanup. There’re tons of little rice and cinnamon pieces in the blender and in the strainer, but nothing that running water won’t remove.
1 cup uncooked white long-grain rice
2 cinnamon sticks
5 cups filtered water
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3-2/3 cup white sugar
In a blender add the rice, water and cinnamon sticks and blend until the rice and cinnamon breaks up (about 2 minutes).
Place mixture in refrigerator for at least 6 hours to allow water to soak up rice.
Strain the liquid into a pitcher and discard the rice.
Add milk, vanilla and sugar into the liquid.
Stir before serving over ice.