Horchata with Mint and Cocoa Recipe

Source: (Jen Reviews)

When planning a fiesta feast with a few Mexican dish choices like tamales, tacos, or a Mexican inspired soup or salad I always wonder what beverage serve. The list is usually short and primarily alcoholic in nature, but luckily Mexico has a long list of agua frescas that are ideal for such occasions! Agua frescas are, essentially, plant based non-alcoholic drinks, where cool crisp water is infused with fruits, nuts, herbs, and other such things. On such drink is the sweetened milky rice water horchata.

In the case of Mexican horchata the water is infused to make a rice and nut milk spiced with cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar. It’s incredibly easy to make, but requires time and patience. This is why it should be made overnight rather than in the morning so as not to have the idea of it tease you mercilessly while you wait!

The basic ingredients for horchata are rice and, often, nuts which are ground to small pieces and soaked in water for a long time to infuse it with flavor. Cinnamon is also usually part of the process, either in soaking or stirred in at the end. Sometimes sugar and vanilla are added as well to give it a bit of comforting sweetness.

For the nuts, I personally prefer walnuts in mine. They are one of the healthiest nuts and they blend well with the other ingredients. An added bonus is that they are fairly inexpensive in my region compared to say almonds or cashews.

For added flavorings, I like to double down on my cinnamon by using both ground cinnamon and a cinnamon stick in the soaking process. This infuses the horchata with cinnamon flavor as well as contributing to the nutritious aspect of the drink with the fantastic benefits of cinnamon. I also really enjoy the spicy flavor of cinnamon!

I’ve found that some like to use condensed milk to sweeten and thicken the drink. This just over sweetens it for me and takes away the refreshing quality that is the ultimate purpose of the cool rice milk. I like mine to include a bit of regular low fat cow’s milk to make it just a little more milky, and less watery, and I like to add a spoonful or two of vanilla extract and some brown sugar to pull it all together to finish it off.

This is a drink that is perfect year round and can be served warmed up or on ice depending on the need.

Horchata with Mint and Cocoa

Prep Time 10 minutes
Wait Time 8 hours
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2
    cups
    white rice
  • 1
    cup
    walnut halves
  • 1
    tablespoon
    ground cinnamon
  • 1
    cinnamon stick
  • Water
  • 3
    cups
    milk
  • 2
    teaspoons
    vanilla extract
  • 1/2
    cup
    light brown sugar
  • 1
    tablespoon
    ground cinnamon
  • 1
    tablespoon
    cocoa powder
  • Fresh mint leaves

Instructions

  1. Place the white rice, walnut halves, and ground cinnamon in a food processor or blender. Pulse the food processor until the walnuts have broken into small pieces and the rice has broken into smaller pieces.
  2. Pour the ground walnuts and rice into a large pitcher and add the cinnamon stick and enough water to fill the pitcher. Stir well and cover. Let it soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  3. After it’s soaked, strain out the excess liquid and reserve both the liquid and the rice and walnuts separately.  Discard the cinnamon stick.
  4. Pour the rice and walnuts back into a food processor or blender and pour in the milk. Blend it well until it is as smooth as it can get.
  5. Strain the milk through a fine sieve into the left over rice milk from the first straining and discard any rice or walnut bits that are left.
  6. Add the vanilla and sugar to the rice milk and stir well to combine.
  7. Pour the Horchata into glasses and sprinkle each with a pinch of cinnamon and cocoa and add a mint leaf to each. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

Horchata with Mint and Cocoa

Course           Beverage

Cuisine           Mexican

Active Time   10 minutes

Wait Time      8 hours

Total Time      8 hours 10 minutes

Servings        8

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Water

  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • Fresh mint leaves

Instructions

  1. Place the white rice, walnut halves, and ground cinnamon in a food processor or blender. Pulse the food processor until the walnuts have broken into small pieces and the rice has broken into smaller pieces.
  2. Pour the ground walnuts and rice into a large pitcher and add the cinnamon stick and enough water to fill the pitcher. Stir well and cover. Let it soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  3. After it’s soaked, strain out the excess liquid and reserve both the liquid and the rice and walnuts separately.  Discard the cinnamon stick.
  4. Pour the rice and walnuts back into a food processor or blender and pour in the milk. Blend it well until it is as smooth as it can get.
  5. Strain the milk through a fine sieve into the left over rice milk from the first straining and discard any rice or walnut bits that are left.
  6. Add the vanilla and sugar to the rice milk and stir well to combine.
  7. Pour the Horchata into glasses and sprinkle each with a pinch of cinnamon and cocoa and add a mint leaf to each. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

Notes

I used regular milk but this would be perfect with almond milk, more rice milk, or even coconut milk!

STEP ONE – BLEND RICE AND WALNUTS

Put the rice and walnuts into a food processor or blender.

Add in the cinnamon and pulse it until everything is broken up into bits but not dust.

STEP TWO – SOAK RICE MIXTURE

Transfer the ground rice and walnut mixture into a large pitcher with a lid that it can soak in.

Add the cinnamon stick and fill it to the top with water.

Stir it well with a long wooden spoon and put the lid on.

Set it out of the way to soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.

STEP THREE – STRAIN RICE WATER

Once the rice and walnuts have soaked, pour the rice water through a fine mesh sieve into another container to remove all the rice grains, walnut chunks, and the cinnamon stick.

Discard the cinnamon stick.

STEP FOUR – BLEND RICE MIXTURE WITH MILK

Transfer the rice and walnut bits to the food processor or blender.

Pour the milk in and blend it until it’s as smooth as possible.

STEP FIVE – STRAIN MILK

Strain the milk through a mesh sieve into the container with the rice water.

Discard the leftover rice and walnut pieces.

STEP SIX – ADD VANILLA AND SUGAR

Pour the vanilla and sugar into the horchata and stir well to combine and help the sugar dissolve.

STEP SEVEN – POUR HORCHATA AND GARNISH

Transfer the finished horchata into a serving pitcher.

Stir the cocoa powder and cinnamon together. Serve the horchata in glasses and sprinkle the cinnamon and cocoa mixture on top and add a mint leaf to each for garnish.

While this is usually a refreshing warm-weather drink, this can easily be warmed up for winter or used as a delicious alternative to eggnog during the holiday season!

What is your favorite time of year to have horchata? What meals do you like to drink it with?

Let us know!

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