Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summertime in California Calls For Horchata

For that have ever lived in or visited California it is apparently clear that there is a huge Hispanic / Latin presence and influence. With those influences come some of the most amazing dishes, desserts and drinks you could think of. Although today is National Rice Pudding Day, for some reason, I couldn’t force myself to put up just a Rice Pudding recipe. Instead we opted to give you a Latin influence and introduce you to the wonderful world of Horchata.

Horchata, is the name for several kinds of beverages made from ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley or tigernuts. In the United States it is commonly found in Mexican restaurants and stores and usually is made of rice. 
One of our favorite kinds of drinks is called The Rice Rocket, and it is 2 parts Horchata, 1 part coconut flavored rum, a dash of Goldschlager served over ice. 

This Non-alcoholic recipe is simple, great tasting and lasts in the fridge for a few days (No need to worry about it going sour, its usually consumed well before it's time comes.)

8 TBS rice
1 cup blanched almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 strips lime zest, colored part only
3 cups hot water, plus 4 cups cool water, divided
Sugar, to taste, 1 to 1 1/2 cups
Mexican vanilla extract or vanilla extract, to taste, usually about 1 teaspoon

Place the rice in a blender or spice grinder and process until thoroughly pulverized.
Take your time doing this - this is a critical step and the more finely ground the rice, the better the horchata will be.

Transfer to a large bowl or pitcher and add the almonds, cinnamon, and lime zest.
Add about 3 cups of hot water, cover, and let stand overnight.

The next day, transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until mixture is as smooth as it will get, again taking your time to allow to get as smooth as possible.
Add 2 cups additional cool water and blend again until thoroughly combined.
Pour mixture through a strainer lined with 3 layers of fine cheesecloth set over a bowl, little by little, pressing on solids and stirring to help mixture pass through the cloth.

The more slowly you strain the mixture, the smoother the horchata will be.
Transfer to a pitcher and add 2 cups more water, until the mixture is a pleasant, smooth consistency.
Add sugar and vanilla extract, to taste.
Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Serve cold over ice.

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