I’m pretty sure there is nothing better than downing a glass of cold, sweet horchata on a warm day. There also isn’t anything better to drink alongside a plate full of too many tacos. These two were made for each other.
I’ve had a good time eating my way from taco truck to taco truck in Los Angeles and it’s no surprise that the trucks serving the best tacos also have the best horchata. The horchata is always a tad bit too sweet (that’s ok!), spiced with loads of cinnamon and is served ice cold. Three tacos on a paper plate with a cold horchata is a Los Angeles dream.
I’m not sure why it took me so long to make my own horchata–it seriously couldn’t be easier. It’s simple in its preparation but the ratios are what’s important. I asked one of the owner’s of my favorite truck for some tips and she told me to always add a bit of lime zest. It’s not easily detected but adds a bit of brightness to an otherwise creamy drink. I think it’s imperative. Since there is a lime shortage going on, I swapped in a lemon strip (feel free to use a lime strip, if they’re available!).
In this recipe, there are more almonds than rice, making it deliciously creamy. I love the flavor that toasting the almonds provides–it’s a bit nuttier and richer. And I usually draw back sugar in my recipes but this one is admittedly sweet. I think it’s good in this context, but feel free to scale back to 3/4 of a cup, if you like. The vanilla bean isn’t all that common and if you’d like, you can definitely skip it, but I really do think it gives it this amazing essence that I’m in love with.
Oh and if you make this and the drink starts to separate, don’t get freaked out; simply mix it until it marries back together. A lot of commercial almond milk and rice milks have binders that prohibit this. It’s natural for the homemade stuff to separate a bit.
- 1 1/2 cups almonds
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 1 cup pure cane sugar
- 1 large cinnamon stick (or 2 small cinnamon sticks)
- 1 lemon strip
- 1/4 vanilla bean, scraped
- Pinch of salt
- 5 cups filtered water
- Place a medium saucepan over moderately medium heat. Add the almonds to the pan to toast, tossing them every few seconds to ensure even browning, for 5 minutes and until the almonds are golden brown.
- In a large bowl, combine the toasted almonds, white rice, sugar, cinnamon stick, lemon strip, vanilla bean caviar and pod, pinch of salt and filtered water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge to sit for at least 6 hours, ideally overnight.
- Remove the lemon strip, vanilla bean pod and cinnamon stick from the mixture. Place a cheesecloth-lined sieve atop a large bowl and set it aside. (Note: I found it necessary for the cheesecloth AND the sieve as it gets a bit gritty if not.) Transfer the mixture to a blender, in batches, and pulse until the horchata is nice and smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour the horchata into the sieve and discard the almond bits. Transfer the horchata to a pitcher and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
- Serve horchata over ice with a few dashes of ground cinnamon on top.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6 glasses of horchata
Adrianna Adarme is a food blogger and author living in Los Angeles, California. She writes the blog A Cozy Kitchen, where she shares comforting, everyday recipes from her kitchen. She recently authored her first cookbook, PANCAKES: 72 Sweet and Savory Recipes for the Perfect Stack. She’s a lover of breakfast, pie (and sometimes even pie for breakfast), corgis and cute things. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.