Horchata (Orxata), be original this year, skip the nog.
Horchata (Orxata)…nothing sais Merry Christmas like a nice big glass of Horchata….what was that? It doesnt? Well shit I already spent time figuring it out so I’m doing it anyway. Horchata is basically just Spanish/Mexican drink that has been infused with rice/nut flavors. Its an ancient beverage that reminds me of BBQ sauce because everyone seems to have their own secret recipe, or their own history of the beverage. Some people say it goes as far back as the ancient Egyptians but at this point who really cares, it tastes good so lets try to make some. The most classic form of Horchata is made out of Tiger Nuts (Chufas), but Tiger Nuts aren’t the easiest thing to source so its not common in the States. I’ll update this post with a Tiger-Nut version as soon as my local fancy grocer gets a shipment in.
Before we get started lets lay out some ground rules for making it. If you read my blog you know I don’t really care for “authentic” or “traditional” recipes if they can be improved on. Just because its old doesn’t mean it can’t be better but at the same time I don’t want to disrespect tradition so I’m going to talk about the standard Horchata and how I like my Horchata and give you some options along the way.
- Authentic Horchata has no Dairy in it, I use it in my favorite version but its not “authentic”
- Soak overnight, don’t put all this work into a drink for an inferior product, just do it.
So lets get started.
Ingredients (Most basic version)
- 1 Cup White Long-Grain Rice
- 4 Cups Water
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 1/2 cup Sugar/Splenda
- Pinch of Salt
Ingredients (My favorite version)
- 3 Cups Almonds
- 2/3 Cup White Long-Grain Rice
- 5 Cups Water (+4 Cups later on)
- 1/2 Cup Sugar or Splenda
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- Pinch of Salt
- 1/8th teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
- 1 Cup Heavy Cream
If you’d like you can also use 1/8th teaspoon of Vanilla extract, I find it to be extremely strong bordering on overpowering so I tend to avoid it but people love it and I thought I should include the option.
This first part is completely optional, you dont HAVE to use Almonds, I just like it. It will save you a ton of time/effort if you can get already peeled Almonds but if you can’t, this is how you peel them.
Just do a quick blanch by first boiling water, then adding the almonds. Boil the almonds for a good 60-90 seconds, then transfer into cold water. You might want to keep running water or add some ice to really cool the almonds off.
The skins should come off with a simple squeeze.
Ok, now that that’s out of way, use whatever tools at your disposal to grind/blend/chop the rice and almonds up. You don’t want it so finely chopped that its flour, but you want it chopped nicely.
Next up you’re just going to want to take 5 cups of hot water, put it in a bottle or jar, add your rice + almond + 2 cinnamon sticks and just let it sit in there overnight. Shake it whenever you get a chance. If you’re making it at 10am for 10pm then just give it a nice shake every time you walk passed it. I use an old 1.7L giant glass bottle of Costco-Vodka. It’s the perfect container for this.
Fast forward to the next day (or later day)
This is something I’ve never understood when reading Horchata recipes, they all call for a cheese cloth folded over to strain all the solids, then inevitably you get legions of posters griping about how hard it was to pass the liquid through.
Easy fix? Do it twice, save the time.
First use a standard coolander/mesh strainer to get the bulk 95% of solids out. Should pass through in seconds.
THEN use the cheesecloth, folded over twice, to remove the smaller particles.
It will still resist a bit in the cheesecloth but instead of sitting there for 20 minutes using your hands to try to shift the solids to let the liquid pass through, this will take about 2 minutes and is much easier.
Take your liquid and add a half cup of sugar or splenda to it, add a pinch of salt to it as well. Add 4 cups of water to the mixture and at this point you are technically finished with the most basic version of Horchata. From here on out you are merely tweaking it to your own personal taste.
For me I like it a bit creamier so I add 1 cup Heavy Cream and I also add 1/8th teaspooon of cinnamon powder. This gives the drink a bit more body without making it a milkshake. I’m not a fan of the vanilla or lemon zest that some people like but if you want, add it now.
And you’re done. Serve on ice, top with alittle cinnamon and a stick if you want to be fancy.
Add a shot of Zaya Rum or some Cognac if you’re like me.