from my table: homemade horchata
Spring, in my mind, calls for refreshing drinks that just sigh of fresh rainstorms and sunny afternoons that hint of the arrival of warm weather. After a long, cold winter, resplendent with hot tea and other warming beverages, all I want is to sip something iced, blended, cool, and maybe a little fruity.
This weekend signaled both the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo, two of the best holidays for refreshing and cool “M” drinks: mint juleps and margaritas! Last year saw a Derby twist with blackberry mint julep cupcakes, so this year was the year of Mexican beverages instead. (Plus, let’s be real here: any excuse I have to eat Mexican food with friends WILL be capitalized upon and tequila will probably be involved.)
Last night, we sipped pomegranate-habenero margaritas with our delicious dinner and for dessert, I wanted to do a two-fold treat: chile-spiked Mexican hot chocolate cupcakes and a cooling finish with horchata, an iced, blended rice drink spiked with cinnamon and vanilla. I had never had horchata before but had marked a recipe on Pinterest awhile back, intrigued by its frothy beauty and cinnamon stick garnish. And, if I’m being really, really honest, I wanted to try it also because I love any excuse to pour things in Mason jars and “horchata” is just really fun to say.
I was thrilled to discover not only is it extremely delicious, but it is easy as a breeze to make! With a little night-before prep, it’s only a matter of measuring a few things and turning on a blender. Garnished with a cinnamon stick for a little flair, it is a fun treat to serve and sip with friends. (Preferably around a bonfire, like I did. It tastes better outside is all I’m saying…)
From A Wooden Nest
¾ cup rice (white or brown)
4 cups water
2 three-inch cinnamon sticks
½ cup sugar or mild honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups milk or coconut milk
Pour the rice in a blender and pulse until it resembles a coarse crumb. Add the 4 cups water and the cinnamon stick(s), and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.
Blend the mixture (cinnamon sticks included) for 2-3 minutes until completely pureed. Add the sugar and the vanilla extract, and blend again until completely combined. Check for sweetness.
Strain the mixture with a cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve into a pitcher. Add the two cups milk, or coconut milk (depending on your preference) and stir. Pour in glasses over ice as-is or add a splash of brandy or rum. (I also tried mine mixed with coffee as a morning treat. Half horchata, half hot coffee, all delicious.)
Garnish with cinnamon sticks and enjoy.