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Horchata: Anyone experience making it?

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I've found plentiful recipes for horchata, including one right here on Chow, but the reviews are really lacking on that particular one, mostly just a debate about Mexican vs. Spanish styles. And they're really conflicting (like most reviews) on the ones on other food sites. There's an LA Times recipe, and I like the one other recipe I've made from there, but is that enough to go on? Sigh.

So if anyone here has a TRIED AND TRUE recipe for horchata, please share! I've been assigned to make a vat of it for a friend's summer party, and I want it to be a hit! But if there's seriously a black hole of horchata experience out there, I will just have to try all the likeliest recipes and report back!

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  1. Oh my gosh, I hate replying when I don't have the EXACT knowledge you need, but here goes anyway... I've never made horchata as such, but I do make almond milk, and I can tell you it's SO easy, but there are a couple of tricks. If you try to use too few almonds (or almonds and rice, or chufa nuts, whatever the heck those are), you're going to end up with seriously watery horchata, i.e. not delicious! I use about 3/4 - 1 cup almonds per two cups water, which makes a very rich-tasting almond milk.

    Also, some recipes say to strain out the solids using a fine mesh strainer, and I don't know what kind of mesh strainer YOU have, but there is no way mine is gonna catch microscopically pulverized bits of almond. I use a tea towel, and it makes my life WAY easier, because I can just gather up the corners and squeeze the milk out. If you have an old-school natural-foods store near you, you might be able to find a nut-milk bag which is designed especially for the purpose.

    Good luck!

    1. I'm very interested in this well - I'm lactose intolerant, though, and I find most Mexican offerings tend to use milk. Is this the case?

      3 Replies
      1. re: blkery

        I've never seen horchata made with milk. Interesting. Maybe they add milk at the Mexican restaurants but I just never noticed? Huh.

        AUGH, I want some horchata right now!!! :)

        1. re: blkery

          I've always had it and made it with milk, but there's no reason you couldn't use rice milk. If you just used water, though, I think it would be, um, watery.

          I've also had it made with sweetened condensed milk, as a coffee add-in (taking the place of both milk and sugar). It makes your coffee insanely delicious.

          1. re: blkery

            Wait, no, disregard my above post (except the part about coffee...mmmm...). I've had horchata that was done only with water, but they call it something different out here in Colorado - horchata agua fresca, I think. It's lighter and waterier, but very refreshing, while the milk-based version is richer and more decadent.

          2. hey, I've never tried making horchata, but just tried it today for the first time and plan to make it! Based on my friend - who knows all about it - horchata is a cinnamon rice drink. there is NO milk in it at all! Basically, the recipe calls for rice, water, cinnamon, and sometimes almonds or vanilla.
            here are a couple sites I found for recipes:

            http://www.texascooking.com/recipes/h...
            http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Horchata...
            this next one looked the easiest
            http://www.whats4eats.com/beverages/h...

            For those that want to know, you cook and/or soak the rice for a long time, puree it, strain it so the drink isn't gritty, and mix in enough cinnamon and sugar for your particular taste. often, you can make it pretty strong, because when you throw in the ice, that dilutes it enough. Hope this helps!

            1. Isn't the main difference between Mexican and Spanish, the use of rice versus the chuffa nuts? Have you ever had the Spanish version? I haven't. As for the Mexican, what else is there to do than soak the rice (possibly ground), and then flavor it? There are short cuts, whether using concentrates, or powders (with lots of milk powder and maltodextrin). Or if you don't like any rice grit, just flavor Rice Dream!

              2 Replies
              1. re: paulj

                Really?? I can use Rice Dream? That sounds so easy! Have you tried it like that before? No taste difference? The whole process for real horchata doesn't sound too bad, I just have to make a LOT, and straining it all sounds a little daunting.

                1. re: esquimeaux

                  Actually I've seen a Hotchata flavored Rice Dream in a few stores.

                  I haven't tried flavoring plain Rice Dream. Cinnamon is the main flavor addition (in Mexico).

              2. I'm actually in the middle of making horchata from a Rick Bayless recipe. He calls for soaking almonds, rice and cinnamon in water overnight, then pulverizing in blender and adding more water. For a richer drink he says to use milk.

                http://chefbud.com/2009/05/05/rick-ba...

                1 Reply
                1. re: puddin head

                  I am going to give this a try, it sounds refreshing. Let me know how your's turns out.

                2. I live in the Phoenix area and many of my friends are Mexican. They said to soak the rice, cinnamon and water overnight. Then you blend it in a blender and strain it. You can use cheesecloth if you don't want it gritty. My favorite restaurant sweetens it with sweetened condensed milk but you can use sugar and no milk if you want.

                  1. I moved to West Virginia from San Diego- no mexican food or horchata here. Trying to make my own, I have tried rice flour cooked in water, strained, added cinnamon, almond extract, and sugar. This works, but it's just not the same as I used to get at my old local ___bertos corner taco shop. I know they use rice, cinnamon, almond flavoring, sugar, but it's never quite right. If I add milk, it makes it alot more like it, but I really don't think they use milk. Maybe a thickener that gives it that consistency.... I'm gonna try a blend of almond milk, rice dream, cinnamon, and raw mexican sugar...
                    I bought a horchata mix in Bowling Green, Kentucky at an int'l market, but it was from Honduras, and was dark, and flavored nothing like the white horchata I grew up with. Strange flavorings....

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Crazycraig5150

                      Horchata isn't typically cooked, AFAIK. Soak rice (and almonds) in water overnight or for up to 24 hours, then blend (with a little cinnamon if that's your preference), strain, and sweeten. The consistency is 100% controlled by your water to rice/almonds ratio. More rice/almonds = thicker horchata with more body and flavor.