Homemade Horchata Ice Cream (No Eggs)

This month marks the start of summer, which is my favorite time to get inspired in the kitchen. The gorgeous weather, lush summer produce, and lazier days make it the ideal season for casual entertaining and sharing with friends.

This month is also the start of my sponsored partnership with Carolina® Rice!

Carolina® is a brand I grew up with and have eaten my entire life (I can’t remember ever not seeing at least a bag or two of it in our pantry growing up!), so I’m really excited for this opportunity to work with them. Each month for the next six months, I'll be sharing a new easy party recipe made with a different variety of rice.

From sweet desserts (like today's Homemade Horchata Ice Cream recipe!) to savory entrees and sides, I hope these recipes will inspire you to use a classic ingredient like rice in new and creative ways your friends and family will love.

But for now — back to dessert!

What is Horchata?
This Horchata Ice Cream Recipe is inspired by the cinnamon-spiced rice horchata beverage that's popular in Mexico. Horchata (pronounced or-CHAH-tah) is a refreshing sweetened non-dairy milk made from a mix of water and rice, nuts or seeds, that is sometimes sweetened and flavored with sugar and spices. It’s served chilled, and is a favorite drink during hot-weather days. The starchy creaminess of the beverage makes it a perfect pairing for spicy dishes.

Horchata originated in West Africa, where it was made with tiger nuts (or chufa, in Spanish), then was brought to Spain by the Moors. Tiger Nut Horchata is still very popular in Spain! Eventually, the beverage made its way across the ocean to what is now Central and South America, where it is most often made with toasted rice, and the Caribbean, where it's made with a mix of rice and sesame seeds. Then, after some time, variations of the beverage migrated up and around the United States, where it can be found everywhere, from taco trucks to trendy coffee shops.

It's not something many realize, but every time you order an almond milk latte, splash oat milk into your morning smoothie, or pour rice milk over your morning cereal, you're essentially taking a sip of a beverage that people have been drinking around this earth in one form or another for centuries!

How to Make Horchata Ice Cream without Eggs
While traditional horchata is made strictly with water, for this ice cream recipe I’m using the same technique of toasting and infusing the rice and cinnamon into dairy milk instead. This will give us the nutty flavor of toasted rice, with the lush creaminess of whole milk and heavy cream.

Basically the best of both worlds!

A lot of ice cream recipes use eggs to create a custard, but the natural starches in this rice ice cream recipe already thicken the milk mixture into a lovely silky pudding, without having to add eggs or other thickeners. It’s easier, and I think also helps the toasted rice flavor really shine through.

When my husband tasted my first batch of this, he commented that it almost tasted like frozen rice pudding!

Note that this recipe does take a bit of inactive time because you have to let the rice steep and then chill. It’s all very straightforward though, and doesn’t require you to hang around in the kitchen very much.

Serve this Horchata Ice Cream recipe on its own, sprinkled with cinnamon, or even drizzled with dulce de leche! Horchata Ice Cream is also the perfect dessert to serve with tacos!

Homemade Horchata Ice Cream Recipe (No Eggs)
Yields: about 1 quart
Active time: 1 hour
Inactive time: 8 hours

1/3 cup Carolina® Extra Long Grain White Rice
2 tablespoons butter
4 cinnamon sticks (*if you are able to find Mexican canela sticks, use those instead, as they have incredible flavor)
3 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Melt butter over medium in the base of a heavy-bottom pot (such as a Dutch oven) and add the rice. Use a spoon to stir regularly for 3-5 minutes, just until the rice is toasted and smells slightly nutty.

Add the milk, heavy cream, sugar and cinnamon sticks, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly until the rice is tender. Remove from heat; stir in the vanilla extract, almond extract, ground cinnamon and salt, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Remove the cinnamon sticks and transfer the mixture in batches into a blender, pureeing until very smooth.

Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl, line with cheesecloth, and pour the pureed milk and rice mixture through, using a spatula to push it through and press out as much liquid as possible.

At this point, the mixture should be creamy and slightly thick, enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it is not, return it to the stove and simmer gently while stirring for 5 minutes.

Chill the strained mixture for at least 1 hour and up to overnight. Process the chilled mixture in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Ice cream will have a loose soft-serve texture at this point. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze at least 4 hours before serving.

Serve sprinkled with cinnamon, if desired.

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