As someone who is lactose intolerant, I'm not supposed to eat anything with dairy in it. Of course being the food lover that I am, it's hard to avoid, and I usually toss caution to the wind to indulge in some creamy dairy goodness. There are milk substitutes for vegans and sensitive people like me, but none quite captures the essence of the rich, white, velvety liquid that blankets your tongue in a comforting layer of creamy sweetness. Of all the dairy substitutes I've found, rice milk is the closest to the milk that comes from cows, which is probably why I love Horchata so much.
Horchata is a beverage that was originally made with tiger nuts, and came to the New World along with settlers from Spain. Today, you'll see a huge glass mason jar filled with ice and horchata at almost every taqueria in Mexico, and it's a great way to quench the fire when you've gone overboard with the Tapatío.
It's not as rich as milk, but it is sweet and creamy, with a nice zing that comes from the cinnamon. I normally make it using almonds, but after making some cashew cream recently, I had to try it in Horchata. It worked out great, giving it a wonderfully creamy texture without imparting a lot of its own flavor.
- ½ cups uncooked long-grain rice
- 1 cup raw cashew nuts
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup evaporated cane sugar
- 2 ½ crushed ice (or 1 ½ cups water)
- ground cinnamon for dusting
- Wash the rice and cashews to remove any starch or debris on the exterior then add 2 cups of cold water and a toasted cinnamon stick. Toasting the cinnamon releases the flavorful oils in the stick and will enhance your finished horchata. Soak for at least 3 hours, or preferably, overnight.
- Dump the water, rice, cashews and cinnamon into a blender and blend for a few minutes until it is very smooth. Add the sugar and an additional 2 cups of water and continue to blend for another few minutes.
- Pour the mixture through a double mesh sieve into a bowl with a spout. Then pour the mixture through a sieve with even smaller holes (I used one made for separating oil from water). You could also wash your double mesh sieve and line it with a quadruple layer of cheesecloth. Use a spoon to stir the solids around, which will help the liquid pass through.
- Your horchata should now be free of any chalkiness. If you want to serve it right away, add 2 ½ cups of crushed ice. If you're going to store it, add 1 ½ cups of water and refrigerate. Dust with ground cinnamon when serving.