Monday, July 16, 2012

Strawberry Horchata Raspados (Panama)

One of the activities that we added this year after having a family meeting to discuss how we might improve our adventures, was to try more of the food from our country of focus. So, after recreating the Panama Flag and crafting some Panamanian Wildlife Art, it is time to explore with our taste buds. 

One of the things that we learned was that Panama has a cuisine that combines the delicious flavors of Mexican food, Caribbean food and squeezes in a bit of American flavor as well. 

In the search for a snack or treat that doesn't require a lot of labor in the kitchen (we're in the midst of a nice little heat wave here), I kept stumbling across recipes for strawberry horchata raspados. Since I have changed my diet to a plant based diet recently, I kept finding myself wanting to try these out, but finding that due to the dairy ingredients, I wouldn't be able to drink it, even if I made them for the rest of my family. 

That is when it occurred to me that I can try to modify it. I have several friends who always applaud my willingness to be "risky" with my cooking. I am always willing to try and tackle a recipe, even if it's something I have never done. Pushing the comfort zone a little, if you will. So why not go for it now?

I am going to include the recipe that I used. However, you should know two things (here comes the disclaimer). 

#1: I started by looking at this recipe and that is the basis of where my modifications and some non-modifications came from. If you are not on a plant based diet, you may want to check that one out if you want to attempt to make these. 

#2: I have never had raspados before, so I have no idea what they actually taste like. This is my first and only sampling of this, so my reviews are not going to be objective, or comparative. I am going to tell you if my taste buds were delighted or not.

With that out of the way, here is how it came together. 

Step One:  In a large container, put 3/4 cup of rice (I used brown rice), 1 cup of almonds, and a cinnamon stick. 

Step Two: Add three cups of hot water to the rice mixture and let stand until room temperature. Once cooled to room temperature, refrigerate over night.

Step Three: (The next morning) This is the part where you would have used condensed milk and evaporated milk, since I didn't want to use either of those, I used 2 cups of almond milk, 2 tbsp of vegan buttery spread, 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 tsp of cornstarch. Heat these over medium heat until the butter spread has melted and the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. 

Step Four: In a blender, process the almond, rice and cinnamon mixture, along with a pinch of salt and the almond milk mixture. 

I really wish there was someway for me to attach the smell to this. Imagine sweet almond and cinnamon and you will almost be able to smell how wonderful it is to put your face over the blender for this step.
Step Five: Pour the mixture through a fine sieve or cheesecloth.

You will be left with quite a bit of the almond, rice "meal". If you are creative, I would suggest creating some other dish to use this up, otherwise, just discard it. 

The left over almond rice meal.
Step Six: Put strawberries in the bottom of a glass and mash them. Then pour the almond rice liquid over the strawberries and top with shaved ice. (Or if you are using a blender and it shaves ice like mine does, you will have battered and free from ice chunks with some shaved ice.)

Next comes the taste test....

I'm sure the suspense is killing you. Here is the verdict....

I will admit, I was a little worried. I am new to the "vegan" world and getting creative with the recipes is not something that I've had a lot of experience with. Add to that, the fact that I have never tried raspados before, I feel like my reviews might be lost on some of you, but I will tell you that I found it to be delicious. There was a sweet creaminess balanced by the sweet tart flavor of the strawberries and a little kick of cinnamon. I'm not sure if this is intended to be breakfast (in fact, I'm fairly certain that it is not), but that's what it was. My tummy feels full and I feel energized (despite having been up late with one of my littles who wasn't feeling well). With the exception of the 1/4 cup of sugar, I can't come up with a valid reason why it is not an acceptable breakfast food. So therefore, our Panama snack arrived in the form of breakfast. 


  1. That looks awesome. As someone who despises milk substitutes (and milk), I have to say I'd actually try this (if someone else made it for me). :D I wonder how it would taste with a wee bit of nutmeg?

    1. It would probably taste good with nutmeg. It totally doesn't need it though. The flavor wasn't even a little bit bland, as I had worried that it might be.

  2. This sounds delicious!! A great way to start the day


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