For Gilberto Cetina, chef at Chichen Itza, horchata should be as simple as possible. His method, though, improves the basic recipe by making a “tea” with the canela and piloncillo before blending it with the rice and a small amount of almonds for added richness.
Chichen Itza’s Horchata
15 minutes, plus overnight and 2 hours soaking. Makes 7 ½ cups.
- 9 cups filtered water
- 1 cup grated or finely chopped piloncillo (6 ounces)
- 3 sticks canela (Mexican cinnamon)
- 3 ¾ cups long grain white rice
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons whole almonds
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Light brown sugar, to taste
- In a small saucepan, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add the piloncillo and canela, stir until the piloncillo is dissolved, then let steep overnight at room temperature.
- Place the rice and almonds in a medium bowl. In a medium saucepan, bring the remaining 6 cups water to a simmer, then pour in the canela-piloncillo “tea.” Pour the simmering mixture over the rice and almonds and let sit at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.
- Using an immersion or stand blender, blend the rice and water mixture, then pour it through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Stir in the vanilla extract and add brown sugar to taste. Refrigerate the horchata until chilled before serving over ice.
Adapted from Gilberto Cetina.