Horchata is not a complicated recipe. Variations, however, are limitless and come with regional allegiances: If Spanish in origin, it’s made with chufas; if Central American, recipes call for pumpkin seeds; and Mexican renditions can include almond milk instead of water. Inherited wisdom favors the basic rice and water version, which is over-the-top creamy without any added milk. This is the type of Horchata that pairs well with spicy food and sunny summer days.
The best part, it’s easy to make.
Horchata requires little fuss and is simple to make in any home kitchen, with a little patience. Use a real vanilla bean and cinnamon stick, the flavors will develop more completely.
Time Required: About 30 to 40 minutes active and about 12-14 hours passive (just enough time to exhaust energy at the beach).
Yield: 2 quarts (share with friends)
- 2 cups long-grain white rice
- 8 cups water
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 2-inch cinnamon stick.
- 1/3 cup sugar (more to taste)
- Ground cinnamon for garnish (optional)
In a food processor, grind rice to a fine powder (about 10 minutes). Transfer to a large bowl and add 8 cups water.
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the watery rice. Add the scraped bean hull and the cinnamon stick. Stir, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 12-14 hours to integrate flavors. Here’s time to soak up the sun and ready the body for something wonderfully fresh and enlivening.
Remove the vanilla bean hull and cinnamon stick and process the rice mixture in a food processor or blender. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer (use a coffee filter as an alternative). Stir and taste for texture; strain until the texture’s pleasing.
This should yield about 8 cups of liquid, but add water if needed. Heat slightly in a pot (to melt sugar) and add sugar (add more to sweeten to taste), stir. Refrigerate and let cool before shaking and serving. If waiting for the drink to cool in the fridge seems impossible, add some ice and serve. Add cinnamon to garnish individual servings and look like a pro.
Sure, this takes time, but not a lot of effort and the resulting drink lasts up to five days in the fridge.
If skipping the prep work and getting the flavor seems more appealing, Santa Cruz’s Marianne’s Ice Cream one ups Horchata drinks around the Bay Area and makes Horchata Ice Cream. The original Marianne’s Ice Cream is located at 1020 Ocean St. in Santa Cruz, CA and, happily, the ice cream is served and can be found in several other Bay Area locations; search here for more information about where Marianne’s Ice Cream can be found as an alternative, easy, and unique way to savor Horchata.