Blame the refrain. After hearing the opening line of Vampire Weekend’s “Horchata” repeat mercilessly in my head—in December drinking hor-cha-ah-ahh-ta—I simply had to grab hold of a recipe STAT.
It just so happens that horchata is a delicious complement to the last spikes of heat left in summer. What sheer dumb luck!
If you haven’t heard of horchata and/or haven’t been to a Starbucks recently, here’s a quick explanation. Horchata, pronounced oar-cha-ta (*surprise* the H is silent), is an ice-cold, frothy, creamy, and delightful almond drink with a lightly nutty taste and hints of brown rice and cinnamon.
If you’re a history nut—yup, that was a nut pun—you’ll be delighted to know that horchata is originally from Spain and was made out of tigernuts. Now before you get ahead of yourself here, tigernuts are an ancient almond variété. Not whatever else you were thinking…
I did not make this recipe properly the first time around. And ended up with a slightly chalky tasting, watered down version of almond milk. So before you read any more of this, go get yourself some cheesecloth. I know, it sounds like an overripe piece of fabric that’s lived in one too many cupboards, but trust me here. It’ll help you make this recipe right.
You can find cheesecloth in your local grocery store for about $5. I happened upon some in the “Bakeware” aisle…go figure.
My other recommendation is to use a full-size blender, not a magic bullet. I know, a magic bullet sounds WAY fancier, but it’s much, much easier to blend ice and rice and spices—that all rhymed coincidentally! the music really is getting to me—together to keep the correct proportions.
Recipe for Ice-Cold Horchata
Servings: 4 glasses
Time: 20 minutes of you doing something + 8 hours of soaking
- w/ cheesecloth: a cinch
- w/out cheesecloth: fuhgettaboutit
- 1 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice (go with basmati rice)
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- Ice or water
- Ground cinnamon
*Note: I tweaked the ingredients a tad. The original recipe calls for 2/3 cup almonds and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Try out whichever proportion you’d like!
- Bathe your food. Start by rinsing the brown rice under cold water. Then, dump it in a large Tupperware container. Add in the almonds, cinnamon, and water. Cover with a lid and let soak for 8 hours (or overnight).
- Go nuts (with blending). Once your kind-of-strange-looking mixture is done soaking, add all of it to your blender (seriously, just throw it all in). Add in the maple syrup. BLEND until everything’s looking smooth.
- Cheeeeese(cloth), Grommit. Hopefully you bought some cheesecloth. Place it over a medium-sized bowl. Secure it with a rubber band if you need to. Pour the blended mixture over the cheesecloth and let the liquid seep through.
*Note: the first time I made this drink, I used a strainer which didn’t do much good. The drinks tasted…chalky. So I highly recommend purchasing that cheesecloth I’ve been talking about!
- Want to drink it now? Add in 1 cup of ice and blend again. Serve with ice cubes and some cinnamon sprinkled on top.
- Saving it for later? Not sure why you would do this, but okay. Just blend another 1/2 cups of water into the mixture and store it in the fridge.
If you want to make your drink look fancy, serve it in a mason jar or other cool-looking translucent cup. The white frothy bit at the top will contrast nicely with the milky-tan color below it.
Quick Clean Up
The reason why I like this recipe is because it’s minimal clean up. You pretty much use two washable items the entire time. Here’s a tip for you anyway: soak your blender immediately after using it. That’ll save you a great deal of time. Oh and wash the Tupperware container. That’s it!
Extra! Extra! Read All About It!
Want to hear the song that started it all?…Listen to it NOW
What exactly goes into Starbucks’ new horchata drink? Check it out.
What else can you make with tigernuts? Yummy bread, apparently.