Makes 8-12 cups

Photo courtesy of Justin Kern

Photo courtesy of Justin Kern

2/3 cup uncooked, long-grain rice
2 cups almonds
1 Ceylon cinnamon stick
2 star anise pods
5 cloves
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
10 cups water divided (6 cups for heating, 4 cold)
1 cup simple syrup (2 parts sugar, one part water)

Blanch the almonds by boiling them in water for one minute. Once you remove them from the water, gently squeeze them to slip the skins off of them. Lay them flat in a dry, greaseless pan and toast them until lightly browned. Grind up the almonds and rice and put the resulting powder in your “soak” container. I find a coffee grinder works really well for this. I used a spare large pitcher to soak, but a big jar would also be great.

Bring six cups of water to boil with the anise pods and cloves. Allow the spices to steep for 30 minutes, then strain them out. Add the cinnamon stick to the powdered rice and almonds, then pour the hot water over. Stir it together to be sure there aren’t any dry clumps left in the powder, then cover and let soak overnight at room temperature.

In the morning put the proto-horchata through the blender until smooth (the Ceylon cinnamon stick will be nice and soft from soaking and just blend right up), then strain into a pitcher. Because the sediment is really fine, it works best to strain it through several layers of cheesecloth, followed by squeezing the cheesecloth to get the rest of the liquid out of the sediment. Add the cold water, simple syrup, and vanilla extract to the pitcher and stir. Serve over ice.

I’ve seen a lot of recipes call for dairy, while the horchata I’ve always had in my family is dairy-free. This has a really nice creamy consistency without being chalky from too much rice and the recipe can easily be divided in half if you’re not feeding an army.

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