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. Adapted from Gilberto Cetina.
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.
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