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brown sugar horchata: a cinco de mayo fail

May 5, 2010

I was so excited to have a great cinco de mayo recipe to share.  I was so excited to have horchata to drink.  So excited, in fact that I decided that I should essentially ignore the recipe that I was using without taking into consideration the repercussions of that decision.

And that, my friends, is how you end up with an horchata fail.  It was a tasty fail and I drank it all, but look at it.  It’s brown.  So wrong, so very very wrong.  This is my second take on horchata and I have to admit that from a texture standpoint, I feel like this one came closer to the real deal.  If only it hadn’t been for that truly unfortunate color.  So, until the next time I try my hand at this (and there will be a next time) from the KC household, Happy cinco de mayo, may your margaritas be strong and your horchata white.

brown sugar horchata
regrettably adapted from the NY Times recipe


  • 6 tablespoons long-grain white rice (scant 1/2 cup or 80 grams)
  • 1¼ cups whole blanched almonds (150 grams)
  • 1 1-inch stick cinnamon
  • About 1 cup brown sugar (115 grams)


  1. The night before serving, pulverize the rice in a blender or spice grinder. Transfer to a large bowl and add the almonds and cinnamon. Stir in 2½ cups hot tap water, cover and let stand for at least 6 hours.
  2. Purée the mixture in a blender until no longer gritty, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add 2 cups water, then blend for a few seconds more.
  4. Set a large sieve, lined with 3 layers of dampened cheesecloth, over a mixing bowl. Pour the almond-rice mixture in, a little at time, stirring gently to help the liquid pass through, and then gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and squeeze out all the liquid.
  5. In a sauce pan, add 2 cups water and the 1 cup of brown sugar.  Heat until sugar is dissolved.
  6. Add sugar water to rice and almond mixture.
  7. Sweeten to taste with more sugar.
  8. If the consistency is too thick, add water.
  9. Cover and refrigerate.
  10. If it separates, stir before pouring into glasses and serving.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2010 5:51 pm

    ty making Spanish horchata (the real thing)…it´s made with chufas (tiger nuts/cyperus esculentus). Crush them until powder, add sugar to taste, water and refrigerate…
    see this for recipes

    • July 14, 2010 10:41 pm

      It’s funny that you should mention that as I had looked at a few recipes using chufas. Unfortunately, you can’t really find them here, but I’ll definitely give them a go when chufas make themselves available to me at some point in life.

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