Sunday, February 24, 2013

Quick & Easy - Cinnamon'y Horchata

I love Mexican food.  If there is one kind of food that you will find me craving constantly, it's Mexican.  While I live close to many delicious & authentic Mexican restaurants, I don't really take advantage of them because I really don't enjoy getting flashed by some crazy guy as I come up the escalator from BART or hearing about how people got shot outside of a restaurant we ate @ a few days before.

While I can manage to put together some rendition of tacos & burritos in my own kitchen, something was missing...something that always made my meals felt complete when I eat out.  I didn't realize what that was until I thought back some of my favorite meals @ Mexican restaurants & remembered that I often got a horchata with my food!  The first time I had horchata was 2 or 3 years ago when I went on a road trip to San Diego with some girl friends from college.  I had no idea what it was but I liked that it was cinnamon'y & it was like milk that didn't come with the dreadful digestive repercussions.  Ever since that time, I have almost always paired my burritos with a horchata.

A few nights ago, it was tacos night @ my house & we usually just end up drinking soda - Mexican Coke for him, Diet Coke for me.  I thought I might shake things up a bit this time & went in search of a horchata recipe.  I had no idea how horchata is made so I just crossed my fingers that I would find something that's quick & easy.  In the end, I came across this recipe on Pinterest (where else?).

Thank goodness, it was quite simple...
     0.5 cup raw almonds
     0.3 cup white rice
     1.25 cups warm water
     1 cinnamon stick
     0.3 cups sugar
     1.5 cups water
     0.25 teaspoon vanilla extract
     1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

But it does take a while...
     Put almonds, rice, warm water, & cinnamon stick in a sealable container.  Refrigerate for 8-12 hours
     Remove the cinnamon stick & pour the almond/rice mixture into a blender; blend until smooth
     Add in sugar, water, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, & blend for 2-3 minutes more
     Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or cheese cloth into glasses


Makes 2 cups

The end product tasted like a horchata but the texture was too watery.  I did some more research after dinner & found a few ways that might improve this recipe.  One - leave the almond/rice mixture on the counter instead of in the fridge over night.  Two - use cashews instead of almonds; the blogger of the original recipe uses cashews because they are creamier.  Three - use milk instead of water when blending.  The dash of ground cinnamon @ the end was my idea because I didn't think the cinnamon stick did much of anything.  Does anyone know of ways to get the most bang out of a cinnamon stick?  I have a really big bag of raw almonds in my cupboard that needs to be used so I am very likely to be making horchata again soon.  Hopefully, after incorporating these modifications, the next batch will be closer to what I get @ restaurants.

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