Toasted Almond Horchata
1/3 cup uncooked Basmati rice
1 cup blanched almonds
1 cinnamon stick*
5 cups water, divided
*If you can find Mexican canela cinnamon, use it! Its red-hot flavor is a nice authentic touch. If not, traditional Saigon cinnamon is perfectly fine.
**Combine ½ cup cane sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and boil until sugar dissolves. Transfer to lidded container and chill in refrigerator. Simple syrup will keep for up to one month.
1. Heat oven to 325. Place the almonds in an even layer on a dry sheet pan and toast until lightly golden, turning once, about 8-10 minutes.
2. Grind rice to a fine powder in a spice grinder or blender.
3. Boil 3 cups of water. Combine ground rice, toasted almonds and cinnamon stick in a large canister or bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to cool, then cover and let stand at room temperature overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
4. Transfer the mixture and soaking liquid to the blender and add an additional 2 cups of cool water. Blend until smooth. Depending on the power of your blender, this could take as long as 4 minutes, so be patient!
5. Layer a fine-mesh strainer with four layers of wet cheesecloth, and strain the mixture slowly into a bowl or pitcher. Alternately, pour mixture into a nut-milk bag and strain. Add 2 tablespoons simple syrup, adjusting sweetness to taste. Stir, refrigerate and serve over ice.