Horchata (pronounced or-CHA-tah) is a traditional Latin American drink that is typically milky and sweet, and sometimes spiced. If you've never tasted horchata before, imagine this as sweetened rice-almond milk with cinnamon, kind of like an iced chai tea without the tea. Each country has its own version of horchata. My version calls for rice, almonds and cinnamon. It is dairy-free (yet creamy) and sweetened with agave nectar rather than sugar. I can't promise that you could find horchata quite like this south of the border, but it is incredibly delicious and refreshing nonetheless. —Cookie and Kate
long grain white or brown rice (dry)
1 1/4 cups
3-inch cinnamon stick
4 1/2 cups
light agave nectar (up to 1/2 cup, to taste)
In a medium bowl, combine the rice, almonds, cinnamon stick and 2 1/2 cups hot water. Allow the mixture to cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
Pour the mixture into a blender, add agave (start with 1/3 cup; you can add more later) and blend on high for several minutes, until the mixture is as smooth as possible. Add one cup of cold water and blend for 10 seconds. Taste, and add more agave if you'd like.
Place a large metal sieve over a large bowl. Line the sieve with cheesecloth (or use a nut milk bag or clean paint straining bag, found at hardware stores). Pour the mixture through slowly, stirring as you pour. Press on the solids with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Lift the cheesecloth/bag and squeeze the rest of the liquid out. Discard the remaining pulp.
Pour the mixture into a pitcher and stir in the last cup of water. Pour into glasses filled with ice and serve.