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Almond-Rice Cooler

Almond-Rice Cooler
Patterned after Rick Bayless's all-time favorite horchata at Casilda, in the old downtown Oaxaca market, the recipe for this cooling drink is enriched with almonds (most cooks use only rice). And, for those interested in a seductive experience, make horchata with milk rather than water. In Oaxaca, they swirl a little pureed red cactus fruit (tuna or jiotilla) into each glass, turning the horchata rosy, then top the drink with cubed cantaloupe and broken pecans.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup medium or long-grain rice
  • 1 1/4 cups blanched almonds
  • 3-inch piece cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican
      canela
  • 2 1/2 cups hot tap water
  • 1 cup sugar, plus more as needed
  • 2 cups cold water or milk

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the rice, almonds, cinnamon stick and hot water. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

Pour the mixture into a blender, add the 1 cup sugar and blend on high speed until smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Line a chinois or other fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth and set over a clean bowl. Pour the mixture through the sieve and press on the solids until only a dry pulp remains. Pour the liquid into a pitcher, add the 2 cups cold water, taste and add a little more sugar, if needed. Pour into ice-filled tall glasses.
Serves 8.
Adapted from Mexico: One Plate At A Time, by Rick Bayless (Scribner, 2000).