I realize this recipe is a day late for the Cinco de Mayo festivities, but let’s just extend the celebration, okay?
I actually only tried horchata for the first time a few years ago, when I was living in San Francisco and surrounded by delicious taquerias. There was one burrito place a short walk away from me in Pacific Heights, which is also where I discovered and subsequently became addicted to aguas frescas. So much better than a coffee habit, in my opinion.
I haven’t found nearly as many places around Boston that offer horchata, and the ones that do use cow’s milk, so those are out for me. However, I finally purchased my very own, super cool nut milk bag* and decided to take things into my own hands using brown rice and almond milk as the base, medjool dates as the sweetener, and extra cinnamon. I also added a little vanilla bean paste, which is optional, but adds a nice depth of flavor. Most things benefit from a little vanilla, after all.
This is one of those recipes that is so easy and cost-effective, you’ll wonder why you haven’t tried a homemade horchata sooner.
- 1 C. Brown Rice, rinsed
- 2½ C. Warm Water
- 1 Cinnamon Stick, plus additional for garnish
- 2 C. Unsweetened Almond Milk (or Rice Milk)
- 4 Medjool Dates, soaked for an hour & drained
- 1 Tsp. Vanilla Bean Paste or Extract (optional)
- 1 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon, plus more for garnish
- Pinch of Fine Sea Salt
- Add the rice and warm water to a high speed blender and process on high until the rice is finely ground.
- Transfer the rice and water mixture to a container and add the cinnamon stick. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and transfer the rice and water to your blender. Process until smooth.
- Using a nut milk bag or fine sieve, strain the mixture, making sure to extract as much liquid as possible.
- Transfer the liquid back to the blender and add the almond milk, pitted dates, vanilla (if using), ground cinnamon, and sea salt. Process until smooth.
- Taste and adjust the sweetness if necessary.
- Serve over ice and garnish with a cinnamon stick and a light dusting of ground cinnamon if you like!
*I initially squirmed a little when I would say nut milk bag, but now it’s starting to get fun. Especially when the person you’re talking to isn’t vegan or raw food-inclined. Try it and relish in the awkwardness.