One of the best things about living in a culturally-diverse city such as Vancouver is that there’s lot of opportunity to try new foods and explore new cuisines. While visiting a local Mexican joint, I was intrigued about the drink they had in a fountain dispenser up front near the counter. My husband saw me ogling and asked if I wanted to try it…. UM, YES!
It was love at first taste. Cold, sweet, creamy, and coconutty. Definitely my kind of drink.
The sign near the drink said “Horchata,” and the flavour they had on tap that night was coconut. I would later resort to Google to find out more about horchata, but I was surprised to find out that the drink is made out of rice.
As with any food, there are different variations on horchata — but Mexican horchata is made with rice and always includes cinnamon. Other countries include sesame seeds, almonds, or other spices in their horchatas.
To make horchata, the rice, nuts, and spices are ground coarsely, steeped in boiling water for a few hours, and then the liquid is strained through a sieve and mixed with sugar, milk, and additional water. Chill in the refrigerator, and voila, creamy homemade horchata.
My recipe for Coconut Horchata is a hybrid of two versions that I found online. Toasting the rice, almonds, cinnamon and coconut before blending them together with the water adds to a much more aromatic and fragrant drink.
It’s a cool, refreshing drink, perfect for a hot summer day, or for sipping while eating some homemade Tacos de Lengua (Beef Tongue Tacos). It’s almost as if you’re vacationing on a beach in Mexico. Minus the sunburn. 🙂
Mexican Coconut Horchata
Yield: ~ 6 Cups
1 C white long-grained rice
1/2 C unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 C almonds
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 C boiling water
1 C room temperature water
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp coconut extract (optional)
1/2 C coconut milk
1/2 C whole milk
3 C cold water
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place all of the dry ingredients onto a baking sheet and lightly toast for 10 minutes, until lightly aromatic.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Once cooled, place all the toasted ingredients into a blender.
Carefully add 2 C boiling water and 1 C room temperature water to the blender and cover. Use a towel to cover the blender lid while blending on medium speed for about 3 minutes. The texture should be slightly coarse, like gritty sand.
Pour the blended liquid into a large pitcher, stir in the sugar and coconut extract and let it sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
Give the liquid a stir and place it into the refrigerator for at least 6-8 hours (or overnight).
Once the liquid has matured, place a cheesecloth over a sieve and strain. Press firmly to squeeze any extra liquid.
Discard the rice, almond, coconut and cinnamon pulp.
Stir in the coconut milk and whole milk and add 3 C cold water to the liquid.
Serve chilled over ice. (Add more water according to taste). Garnish with some ground cinnamon.
Recipe adapted from Byron Talbott and the DIY Lighthouse.