Horchata Ice Cream

Horchata is my home girl.

Seriously. It’s second only to ginger beer in my personal ranking of favorite things to drink. Creamy, spicy, and refreshing, it’s everything I want in a beverage.

I was so psyched to try the REAL DEAL last week in Barcelona (on a whirlwind trip from which we are still recovering from some serious jetlag). Horchata from Spain is actually made from tiger nuts or chufas (which are not actually nuts at all, but rather tubers), though iterations of the drink have spread to the Americas and utilize everything from rice to almonds to sesame seeds. I hope to post more about our trip in the coming weeks; I have so much to share, but so many photos to sift through first. Patience, my dears.

Horchata Ice Cream

As perfect as horchata is in liquid form, it’s even more brilliant churned into ice cream. Talk about refreshing… It’s all kinds of awesome.

Inspired by a sample of Tillamook’s new Cinnamon Horchata ice cream which I was fortunate enough to sample last fall, I knew I had to try my own. I’d already made homemade horchata before, and turning it into ice cream involved little more than mixing in some sweetened condensed milk and eggs.

The subtle cinnamon spice makes this ice cream taste like Christmas (according to Taylor, at least) but that’s not to say it can’t be enjoyed the rest of the year, too; a fact which I will prove over and over again this summer.

Homemade Horchata Ice Cream

The fat content of the horchata is much lower than if you used milk or cream in custard base, so the ice cream has its own unique texture and character. Not icy (the syrupy sweetened condensed milk and cornstarch take care of that), but also not quite what you expect. I’d maybe describe it as slightly chewy and rubbery if it didn’t sound so unappetizing (and I promise you, it’s not!), but I’m not sure how else to describe it. The syrupy sweetened condensed milk capitalizes on the superpowers of cooked sugar to hold the ice cream together beautifully, even without the extra butterfat.

Horchata Ice Cream

This ice cream starts with homemade horchata, with all its rich, creamy, spicy wonderfulness. You could certainly use pre-made horchata if you have a good source nearby. The homemade is nice because it lets you control the sweetness: one can of sweetened condensed milk being more than enough to sweeten and entire batch of ice cream. If you started with an already-sweet drink the result might be overkill.

Cinnamon Horchata Ice Cream

Horchata Ice Cream made with Rice, Almonds, and Cinnamon

Note that canela cinnamon is what you want here. The sticks are looser and more papery than the hard bark of Ceylon cinnamon. Canela or Mexican cinnamon is going to give you a milder, smoother spice. Check out your local Mexican grocer and I’ll bet you a quart of this stuff they have it.

Horchata Ice Cream

Yield: about 1 quart

Total Time: 24 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup long-grain white rice (such as basmati)
  • 1 5-inch stick Ceylon cinnamon (also called Mexican cinnamon or canella)
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) blanched almonds
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • pinch salt

Directions:

  1. To blanch almonds: bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Add almonds and boil for 45 seconds, then drain and rinse with cool water. The almonds should easily slip out of their skins when squeezed. You can also substitute whole or slivered almonds which have already been blanched and skip this step.
  2. In a spice grinder or a clean coffee grinder, pulverize rice and cinnamon stick until finely ground. Add ground rice to a large mason jar or bowl. Add almonds and cover with 2 cups water (use filtered water if your tap water is iffy). Cover and refrigerate 10-12 hours or overnight.
  3. The next day, pour the contents of the jar into the canister of a blender, along with 1 more cups of filtered water. Blend on the highest speed for 1 to 2 minutes or until completely smooth.
  4. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve lined with two layers of cheesecloth, or, if you have one, a nut milk bag is ideal for this. Let most of the liquid drain through, then gather up the edges and squeeze the remaining pulp to force out as much liquid as you can. Discard leftover pulp. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of liquid.
  5. Pour horchata into a saucepan along with sweetened condensed milk. Warm over medium heat until it just starts to bubble (do not let it come to a full boil).
  6. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks together with cornstarch and salt until smooth and slightly lightened in color. Slowly ladle in 1/4 cup of warm horchata, whisking to incorporate. Continue to add horchata, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking constantly, until about half of the horchata has been incorporated and mixture is warm to the touch. Pour back into saucepan with remaining liquid. Continue to cook over medium heat until mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon, about 5 to 7 minutes (it should read 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer). Remove from heat and transfer to a heat-proof bowl set inside an ice bath. Stir until cooled to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight until completely chilled.
  7. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm, or enjoy immediately as soft-serve consistency.

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23 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Always good to see more interesting flavors of ice cream!  I love the use of Mexican cinnamon.  I’m crazy for the stuff!

  2. What a cool ice cream flavor! I love horchata, so I’m sure I’d love this :)

  3. I have never had horchata. I know, it’s practically a crime! I know I’d love it, so I’m not really sure what’s stopped me, but trying it in ice cream form seems like the perfect place to start! 

  4. YUM! I’ve never heard of horchata before, but after this it’s definitely on my list! Anything that tastes like cinnamon I’m on board for!

  5. I love horchate anything and I have a feeling this is going to be making an appearance at our Cinco de Mayo brunch this Sunday…

  6. This looks delicious! I have been dreaming of RumChata Ice Cream. Do you think that would work too?

  7. I’m with you! Horchata is my home girl too! I make it into lattes and cocktails and love the idea of this ice cream!

  8. Love the idea for this ice cream. I bet it tastes soo good with the addition of the almonds. I will keep this recipe  in my mind, it’s perfect for the hot days we are having. 

  9. wow this looks amazing! I am a huge lover of horchata but never even though of turning it into ice cream. Did you like the horchata in Spain? By the time I tried it there I was so accustomed to it being made with rice I didn’t really care for the flavor of the tiger nuts…

  10. I love these photos, Lindsay! So gorgeous. <3 

  11. Hello from rainy North part of Spain! Who doesn´t love horchata? Once you have tasted it -it`s a love for the rest of your life! :)) (joking) Although, in the seaside provinces they sell it the whole year around, but it´s a summer drink and it´s when it tastes better. In hot dry summer there is nothing better then horchata. It´s not too sweet, not makes you drink even more after, as do Coke like drinks, and it´s pretty quench (let´s be honest, it´s caloric). And I love the idea of making an even more refreshing ice cream of it!

  12. Do you cook the rice before pulverizing it? Silly question but just making sure.

  13. Looks incredibly flavorful and delicious!

  14. Hello from southern Spain!  I’m glad to see how one of our so typical and refreshing drinks is appreciated beyond our borders.  Totally agree, there’s nothing better than a nice chilly horchata to beat the heat in summer. My childhood is filled with memories of evenings having snacks as horchata with fartons.

    I was surprised  by the variation you did in your recipe using rice, almonds and condensed milk. This would not be considered as a horchata itself here, but rather as an almond milk. I guess it is due to the difficulty of finding tiger nuts/chufas in other countries. I will have to try your recipe variation,  it looks tasty.

    Anyway, I would like to share with you the original recipe, that I usually made, of Valencian horchata. I use a thermomix which also have equipment to make ice creams. Children just love it. It’s very simple.

    Here there goes: Ingredients for 1 liter of horchata Valenciana.
    250 grams of tiger nuts, 1 liter of chilly water, 125 grams of sugar. Optional: a bit of lemon juice or a cinnamon stick.  And nothing else. This takes about 25-30 minutes, adding 24-48 hours for soaking the tyger nuts.

    First thing to do is to soak tiger nuts, to hydrate and puffy them. We keep them 24 or 48 hours in water and change the water several times to remove impurities of this tubers.
    After this, we  get hydrated tyger nuts in a container with some chilly water and began to grind slowly with the mixer.
    Gradually the tyger nut milk or horchata will go out. Then pouring it  through a conical strainer for two things: remove impurities and to squeeze tyger nuts a little more. It’s a hard task and requires patience and a lot of hand strength.
    Then add sugar and remaining water to the container and mix vigorously. We put it into the fridge for a couple of hours so it is  chilly. It’s important to drink it immediately. You can see the step by step in this link: http://www.mercadocalabajio.com/2007/05/como-hacer-horchata-de-chufas-casera.html 

    I hope this recipe could help you, if you may have the chance to get tyger nuts, and could makes you remember about the original tasty flavor of this ancient drink.  

    • Thanks for sharing! I definitely enjoyed trying the tiger nut version in Barcelona. Horchata in the Americas is usually made with rice and/or almonds as seen here, probably because, as you mentioned, the lack of availability of tigernuts. Interesting to see a recipe evolve like that. :)

      That said, you could most definitely turn your tigernut version into ice cream in much the same way!

  15. Oh my gosh, this is HEAVEN.  Horchata ice cream is pure genius, and your description (plus those luscious photos) makes it sound even better.  (Also, I love the sound of this texture!  Somehow “slightly chewy and rubbery” actually does sound appetizing, haha!)  I can’t wait to try this!

  16. Hey :)

    This really sounds amazing, big like :D
    Greetings

  17. I saw this recipe months ago. It sounds delicious and I hope to try making it someday, but also: where is that mug from? It’s such a good mug. 

  18. Isn’t this supposed to be made with tiger nuts? I don’t see it in the recipe.

    • In Spain horchata is made with tiger nuts, however over on this side of the world it’s more common to see it with a rice and/or almond base. You could certainly do a tiger nut version if you had access to them!

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