Short and Sweet: Horchata

Horchata 2

In honour of the winter solstice and a 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar wrapping up and starting anew (my youngest sister -not the one across the street- and her family were actually at a the ancient city of Tikal for the sunrise this morning), I made a drink – not a boozy one (although it does have potential) but a Mexican rice-based beverage that tastes like liquid rice pudding, and works as sort of lighter version of eggnog without the thick heaviness. You whiz dry rice in the blender, cover it with water overnight and then strain it to make a ricey base – the whole process took about 5 minutes of actual kitchen counter time, and I’m certain it will be on our regular holiday rotation from now on. It has the consistency of milk, and yes – tastes just like rice pud.


Sorry to have skipped out on documenting the process, but it would have required me to shoot dry, blended rice in the dark – not an ideal scenario. Suffice to say that when you pulse it in the blender it’s not as loud and annoying as you might think, and you’ll wind up with something that resembles coarse white cornmeal. (Don’t try to whiz it the first time with water, as David can attest to.)

Since Christmas is also whizzing up at lightning speed, I’m going to shorten my posts for a week or so. But good news – I’m also going to boost their frequency to daily! (She says with the utmost confidence that she can totally pull it off.) Which I think will work for all of us, because likewise I doubt you have time to sit and read wordy food essays at this time of year either. The exception: Christmas Eve, when I am determined to bake some stollen.

So let’s call it a series – short and sweet. Deal? Because I foresee most immediate postings being of the sweet variety…



December 21, 2012

Adapted from Paletas, by Fany Gerson, by way of David Lebovitz

  • Makes: Serves 4-6.


2/3 cup white rice

3 cups warm water

1 cinnamon stick

1/2-3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups whole milk or half & half

Ground nutmeg or cinnamon, for serving


1In a blender, grind the rice until it has the consistency of very coarse polenta. Pour into a bowl, cover with water, add the cinnamon stick, cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

2Remove the cinnamon stick, pour the mixture back into the blender and puree the rice and water really well. Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with cheesecloth, pressing it to extract as much of the rice flavour as possible.

3Stir in the sugar and milk, mixing until the sugar is dissolved. Taste, and adjust sweetness, if necessary. Refrigerate until completely chilled. Serve over ice, topped with freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon.


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9 comments on “Short and Sweet: Horchata

  1. Corinne
    December 21, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Looking forward to short and sweet. Merry Christmas and happy holidays Julie.

  2. Esmeralda
    December 21, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    Happy New Mayan Calendar Cycle! I’m whizzing rice the minute I hit Submit Comment. This sounds delicious.

  3. anonymou
    December 22, 2012 at 12:39 am

    hi, I just want to tell you that I love your blog and your recipes.

    Happy holidays!

  4. Jan @ Family Bites
    December 22, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Brilliant. I totally forgot all about this drink – I think the kids will love it. Looking forward to your short and sweet posts!

  5. jules
    December 22, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Ohhhhh! Just when I think I have a “final” list of what we’ll be having on Christmas, you pull me back in with one more thing I simply HAVE to try! Merry Merry Julie and thanks for another year of inspiration and learning.

  6. Rachael
    December 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm


    Short and sweet sounds about right for this time of year.
    Thank you for your wonderful blog and amazing recipes.
    All the best for the holidays and new year!!

  7. Elaine
    December 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Love me some horchata! A friend of mine gave me a bottle of rumchata (it is exactly what it sounds like) for my birthday and I was skeptical at first, but holy cow, is it ever good.

  8. Pat
    December 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Would using skim milk or 1% milk alter the Horchata recipe dramatically? Although I realize that whole milk would make the drink much richer, I am always trying to find ways to lower the fat and calorie content.

  9. dana
    December 24, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Interesting! I made eggnog this year using a recipe from a recent issue of Avenue Magazine. It was awesome! Light and frothy. I highly recommend it.

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