Authentic Mexican Horchata

In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo try out this homemade horchata.  Horchata is a Mexican treat that can best be described as a refreshing, creamy, cinnamon-y drink that is served chilled. It is pleasantly sweet and great for something to sip on in the summer heat. Many horchata recipes call for milk but in fact traditional horchata is completely dairy free. Enjoy!

⅓ cup uncooked, long-grain white rice
1 cup almonds
1 cinnamon stick
5 cups water, divided (3 cups hot, 2 cups cold)
½ cup concentrated simple syrup (2 parts sugar, 1 part water)

1. Blanch the almonds by tossing them into boiling water for about a minute, then draining under cold water. After blanching, give each of those little guys a squeeze and the skins should slip right off. Once the almonds are blanched, skinned, and dried, toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly brown.
2. Pulverize the rice in a spice grinder or blender. Take your time and make sure it reaches a fine powder.
3. Add the ground rice to a large jar or bowl (we used jars) with the almonds and cinnamon stick (see if you can get your hands on a mexican cinnamon stick). Stir in the 3 cups of hot water, allow to cool to room temperature then cover and let stand overnight (not in the fridge!).
4. Transfer the mixture into your blender, add the 2 cups of cold water and blend until it is nice and smooth. How long you do this for will depend on the power of your blender; it will take at least a minute and up to four.
5. Strain the blended mixture slowly into a pitcher- most recipes require that you use a strainer lined with three layers of cheesecloth, but if you’re like us, go ahead and use a fine mesh tea strainer. We found it easiest to strain a small amount, guiding it through with a spoon, and then discard the stuff that was left behind (don’t be fooled if this stuff looks tasty, it’s really not).
6. Add concentrated simple syrup. When preparing the syrup beforehand, you can either dissolve it on the stove or in the microwave. If you try it and would like it sweeter, use more.
7. Refrigerate. Serve over ice. Garnish with cinnamon/cinnamon stick.

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