Shortcakes for spring! (and for breakfast. and dessert)

April already?! Wow. That went fast. And for being April, the strawberries are looking quite delicious — and surprisingly are so! I guess they’re technically in season somewhere. I do try to eat local, but shortcakes really call for strawberries and these looked especially delicious, so I’m not complaining…

I had a request for chocolate, so of course I was going to work that in — I’ve never made chocolate shortcakes before now but I highly recommend them.

Let’s see, life things lately…

Happy 16th birthday to this little nugget! She just gets more adorable every day.

Further progress on the SF series! This one is located at 2020 California Street.

More flowers! In this case, March showers seem to have brought April flowers…

But back to this hot mess. Dessert! It doesn’t photograph especially well but I promise it’s delicious.

I prefer my shortcakes on the not-so-sweet side, so that a) I can eat them with ice cream and not send myself into a sugar coma (even if it is unrefined sugar!) and b) they really highlight the berries. As such, these shortcakes are really more biscuit-y than cake-y, but that’s only if you eat them plain! Load them up with all of the other goodies and they have a perfect sweet-not too sweet balance. Especially the caramel two ways. Don’t skip that!

Highly recommended for dessert AND for breakfast: whole grains, no refined sugar & healthy fats, what’s not to like? Excellent with eggs & salad, of course I speak from experience. Happy shortcake-ing!

Chocolate Shortcakes with Strawberries, Coconut Cream, Maple Almond Caramel and Chocolate Caramel

Whole wheat, refined sugar free, dairy free/vegan option (replace butter with coconut oil & buttermilk w/ coconut buttermilk – see note). Lightly sweet shortcakes with fresh berries and coconut cream… plus caramel two ways because, why not? Shortcakes adapted from the cakes I made previously with peach filling, here. If you choose to go the coconut cream route, make sure you refrigerate the can overnight. A Wait are those Cookies original! Yield: 6 shortcakes + extra caramel (or maybe not, depending on how liberally it gets poured… no judgement here)

For the shortcakes:

  • 1 c + 1 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 4 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into smallish pieces (or coconut oil for dairy free – make sure it’s chilled & solid)*
  • 3/4 c buttermilk*
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

*if you’re not concerned about being dairy free/vegan, go ahead and use regular buttermilk & butter. I used 1 c (canned) coconut milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice as I was out of buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 450, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cacao powder, baking powder and soda, salt, and coconut sugar. Cut in the butter using your fingertips (my preferred method) or a pastry cutter, until things start looking like coarse cornmeal and the butter is distributed evenlyish. Make a well in the center (look! You get to play with your food!), pour in the buttermilk, then use a spoon or spatula to stir it all together, until just combined (do try not to over mix). Stir in chocolate chips. Divide the dough into six little balls, flatten slightly and place on the baking sheet. Bake for just about 13-15 minutes, until the tops are firm and lightly browned. Let cool slightly on a rack before serving.

While the cakes are baking, make the caramel sauce:

For the caramel sauce (two ways!)

  • 1/3 c coconut oil
  • 1/2 c unsalted, creamy almond butter
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 runneth-over tsp vanilla extract
  • scant 1/4 c dark chocolate chips

In a small saucepan over medium, heat coconut oil, almond butter, maple, and sea salt over medium until all are melted and incorporated. This shouldn’t take more than a minute or two, which is excellent for instant gratification. Turn off the heat and stir in vanilla. Pour half the warm caramel into a heat-safe jar, and stir the chocolate chips into the remaining half still in the saucepan. They should melt as you stir, but you can turn the heat back on if necessary to melt them completely. Store the chocolate caramel in a separate jar. Serve warm or cold.

For assembly! The best part.

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • copious amounts of strawberries

Open the refrigerated can of coconut milk, and scrape out the solid cream into a large bowl. With an electric mixer, beat until smooth, then beat in vanilla.

Serve shortcakes sliced in half (to maximize cake square footage), topped with coconut cream, strawberries, caramel drizzle, and extra ice cream. Because, ice cream! Obviously. Also makes excellent breakfast, sans ice cream (or not, you do you!) Store any leftover shortcakes covered on the counter overnight or in the fridge.

Can someone explain how it’s already 2016?

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Woah. Apparently I’ve totally fallen off the blogging wagon. It’s nothing personal, don’t worry — I still love you, invisible internet friends!! But life seems to be taking me in different directions these days, so time to blog is few and far between.

That’s not to say I haven’t been baking…. or cooking… or eating… because all of those have been happening in spades.

AND I made cookies last night  apparently several days ago since I really failed at actually posting this when I thought I was going to… AND the cookies are fantastic.

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AND my winter quarter started today, how on earth is that possible?! I swear I just started break. Can I rewind and redo and have an extra month of break please?

In other news, my contribution to the Scott Fam holiday card was quite fun to execute, especially in fun new leggings…

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I’ve been drawing again, wheeee!

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But anyway, cookies! These are fantastic — chewy edges with softer centers, and extra chewy when you keep them in the fridge, which is my fave.

Happy 2016! I think this year is going to be pretty fabulous.

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Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Vegan, refined sugar free, full of healthy fats and whole grains. Just sweet enough for the post holiday season. Thick, chewy edges with a softer center. Perfection. Yield: 17. Recipe lightly adapted and gratefully borrowed from Pralines and Greens, here!

  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed+3 tbsp water)
  • 1 c almond flour
  • 1 c whole spelt flour
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • sprinkle of fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • scant 1/4 c maple syrup
  • scant 1/4 c coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3  c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine flaxseed and water and let sit for the flax egg.

In a larger bowl, whisk together almond flour, spelt flour, oats, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt. In a smaller bowl, combine melted coconut oil, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and vanilla. Pour wet into dry, and stir until just combined. Add flax egg. Toss in chocolate chips. Form the dough into little balls, and flatten slightly once they’re on the cookie sheet. Bake for just about 11-12 minutes, then let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temp for softer cookies, or in the fridge for cookie with chewier edges (my personal fave).

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Any excuse for a cake

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So! Fourth of July! Always fun in the dessert department, because who doesn’t love an excuse for a celebration-type of dessert. And hold the phone, is it possible that I put something up here that isn’t a bar?! …. *pin drops* No. can’t be.

But it is!

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Shocking.

A CAKE! And a layered one at that, because really, if you’re going to make a cake, why not go big?

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And despite it giving me much grief in the assembly (hot weather and butter-based icing are not really the best of friends), it did turn out rather pretty— Props to E’s mom Jana for the cute little flags! This is a pretty simple cake to put together as well, as the lemon curd can be made ahead of time, and the buttercream comes together in about five seconds.

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This is the first time I’ve made a fun dessert in quite a while… as I mentioned before a few posts back, I’ve been having quite the run of stomach issues lately, and have been attempting to figure out why my digestive system seems to hate me so much of late. Rude. Still no concrete answers, sigh… but one day at a time. I’ve been experimenting with reduced / no gluten,  though the jury is still out on that one. Well actually, jury is still out, period. So, cake. Because I don’t seem to feel much worse when I do eat it, and it was the Fourth! Celebrations should ensue.

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Apologies for the huge gaps between my posts these days… life has been crazy the last few months and isn’t really getting much calmer (in fact, I start grad school in less than a month, so I don’t expect to be able to keep regular posts coming. We’ll see how things shake out!) E and I move in to our apartment the first week of September, so maybe after that things will get a little more normal. We’ll see, nothing is ever normal around here (because normal = boring. ha)

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Whole Wheat Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd and Vanilla Buttercream

Whole grains, healthy fats, and CAKE. Winner, winner. A lightly sweet, lightly lemony cake is complemented by a rich but not too decadent vanilla buttercream, and tart homemade lemon curd. The cake itself is refined sugar free, but there is powdered sugar in the frosting. If you have the time, definitely make homemade lemon curd. It is eons better than the stuff you can buy in the store, and about ten zillion times cheaper. Yield: a 2 layer, 9″ cake + enough buttercream for the filling and the top. I preferred a naked cake look for this one, as it was hot and nobody really wants a mega glut of frosting when it’s over 90 outside… the cake is light but very satisfying, and doesn’t make you feel like you need a nap afterwards! Cake adapted from I Bake, He Shoots, here!

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For the cake:

  • 2.5 c + 4 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • scant 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 c coconut sugar, divided
  • 1 c avocado oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 c buttermilk
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • zest of two medium/good-sized lemons

For the frosting:

  • 1 stick of salted butter
  • 2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp lemon curd

Lemon curd is the same recipe I used about three years ago (but with regular lemons instead of meyer this time); my recipe is here. Yield is about 1-1.5 c. You won’t use it all for the cake, unless you use the extra to top the individual slices. I used some in the buttercream, and some on the top. I suggest making it the day before, and just letting it hang out in a jar in the fridge overnight.

Raspberries, for garnish.

For the cake: preheat the oven to 325, and lightly grease+flour two 9″ cake pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, mash together the lemon zest and 2 tbsp coconut sugar, until fragrant. Set aside. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine remaining sugar, avocado oil, and eggs. Beat until lighter (though because of the coconut sugar, it won’t significantly lighten) and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Add in lemon zest + sugar mixture. Combine buttermilk, vanilla, and lemon juice (I like using a liquid measure for easy pouring). Alternating dry ingredients and wet, add them to the larger bowl with the sugar/oil/eggs, starting and ending with flour. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, and bake for 30-35 minutes—the tops should spring back when touched lightly, and a tester should come out clean.

Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the buttercream:

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat softened butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add in 2 tbsp of lemon curd, and beat briefly to combine.

Frost the cooled cake as desired — I did a layer of buttercream/curd in the center, and topped the cake with the majority of the buttercream + another layer of lemon curd. Be careful of the cake sliding — my kitchen was hot so I ended up skewering the cake for transport, and letting it set up in the fridge for several hours prior to serving. Garnish with raspberries or another berry of your choice! Serve with extra lemon curd, because it’s basically the food of the gods..

Store covered cake in the fridge, assuming you have any leftovers!

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All things legume

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Apparently I’m on a roll with the barz here… this isn’t intentional (and they do get a little redundant to photograph after awhile), but I guess legume-based dessert barz are my jam these days. Who knew.

BECAUSE THEY’RE AMAZING!

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Or maybe because I’m obsessed with all things legume. Whatever, one of my nicknames is Lentil for a reason…

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Also, I inadvertently had ice cream for dinner last Friday night. Sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do. See below for photographic evidence. I’ll give you one measly guess which one is mine…

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But back to barz. I’ll address your concern: no, you can’t taste the lentils (much like the time I made red lentil coconut ice cream — you get the earthiness from the lentils but once they’re hangin out with cashew butter and maple, your tastebuds don’t go LENTILS?! WTF?! No no. They’re actually a very neutral flavor. What’s more (because, there’s always more; just like parenthetical asides within a parenthetical aside; redundant much?! Jeez), the lentils add a whambam, no nonsense, whole food protein punch to your dessert, which is just winning in my book). I have other lentil barz on the blog but these are my favorites. They present kind of like an oatmeal cookie, with a similar texture, and I’m all over it.

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ALSO. By virtue of the fact that these are… virtuous… they qualify for breakfast-snack-lunch-snack-dinner-dessert; or some combination to that effect. You know, because LENTILS and OATS and CHOCOLATE. Which also happen to be three of my very fave things. I’m reserving them for dessert, for now… but I may have evened off a sliver to go with my breakfast. I mean, come on… the edge was uneven. You can’t have uneven bar cookies, it’s a crime. Luckily I am very adept (I learned this skill from my similarly-adept mother) at trimming and neatening all baked goods. It’s an essential skill, right up there with smoothing and leveling off the ice cream (though that one, I learned from my gram who was extremely wise in these kinds of things).

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So, barz. Sorry this is pretty much the umpteenth bar recipe on here and about the elevendyith that is made with a legume of some sort, but I’ve just been too lazy for indivudual cookies lately, and big chewy squares of bar cookie with a fork have been very appealing (they’re also fast, excellent when you’ve been out of the house for 12 hours including a workout, you’re famished and a nutrient-dense, satisfying sweet treat is necessary).

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Oaty Cashew Butter Lentil Bars

Vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free, soy free. And delicious! They are lightly sweet and satisfying (both taste testers concurred, and one of them likes really sweet things — I’m looking at you, Vacuum Vati!), so they appeal to a broad range of tastes. Recipe yield is one 8 by 8 pan, and is inspired by Ambitious Kitchen, here.

  • 1/2 c red lentils (dry), rinsed
  • 1/2 c cashew butter
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water; let sit 5 minutes)
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • heaping 1/4 c cashew meal
  • heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

In a small saucepan, combine red lentils and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Lentils are done when soft and all of the water has been absorbed. Set aside to cool. Once they’re cool, puree them with a tablespoon or two of water in the food processor, until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together cashew butter, maple syrup, and vanilla (if your cashew butter is cold, arm strength is necessary… think of it as part of your workout). Once combined, stir in flax egg and pureed lentils. On top of all that, toss in the oats, cashew meal, sea salt, baking soda, and chocolate chips. Stir until combined. Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and smoothy smooth out the top if that’s your thing. Pop them into the oven for 28-35 minutes — 28 will give you gooey bars, and more like 33 will give you dense and chewy ones (I prefer the latter). For the chewy, dense bars at about 33 minutes, the top should be firm to the touch, and a tester should come out nearly clean with a few crumbs.

Store covered in the fridge for extra chewyness (my fave).

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Messy blobs of Jackson Pollock ice cream

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Trashed up desserts are the best kind of desserts.

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I usually find that ice cream and rainbow sprinkles are my preferred trashing-up methods of choice… and once the ice cream starts melting, you can go all Jackson Pollock on your dessert. This method is especially fun when there is drizzly caramel involved, obviously.

Apologies for the lousy photos… Realized this was too good not to share when I was in the process of annihilating it. Let’s just go along with the Jackson Pollock theme, hooookay?! And actually, I’m kind of loving the messy blobs of ice cream…

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And yes, this ice cream does contain eggs and dairy. If you follow me regularly, you’ll know that over a month ago I was told I had an intolerance to a bunch of different foods (after feeling like garbage for three months), so I went cold turkey and stopped eating all of them for a month. And I felt exactly the same (ie, crappy) for that whole month. So, I am a) back to eating those things and b) in the process of being tested for a bunch of other stuff to find out what’s going on. Which means that as it doesn’t make me feel any worse than I already do, ice cream is back on the table. Because it makes me happy, and until I have a better idea of what’s causing this unceasing bout of crappy, I will eat things that make me happy. Le sigh. Ideally answers will be forthcoming, and SOON.

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But enough of that, because I don’t like wallowing, I like dessert. Let’s indulge instead in some messy delicious photos of dessert. Because dessert is way more fun than wallowing, and messy food is sometimes more fun to photograph than perfect food. Even when it’s lacking sprinkles (I know, I don’t know what I was thinking. Obviously I wasn’t).

So here you have some chickpea oatmeal cashew butter bars… because I took all the delicious things and crammed them into one bar. Because I can. I’m definitely a fan of bean-based desserts— it’s a great way to get a little extra protein boost in your dessert, besides the fact that they’re naturally gluten free and delicious. AND THEN you throw ice cream all over the top of it and pat yourself on that back for a job well done.

A word of caution to the super sweet fans out there: these bars are lightly sweet, but definitely not overly so. The maple could be increased, depending on your preference; I like them less sweet though so a 1/4 c was fine for me.

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Cashew Chickpea Oat Bars

Gluten free, dairy free, vegan, refined sugar free, and full of good carbs and healthy fats. Lightly sweet and cakey Quick to make, and minimal clean up (especially if you bung the food processor into the dishwasher as I’ve become fond of doing… more a slightly more drought-friendly option than trying to hand wash the stupid thing). Recipe yields one 8 by 8 pan, or somewhere in the neighborhood of 9-12 bars. Lightly adapted from the Natural Nurturer, here!

  • 1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 c hemp milk (or other non dairy of choice)
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 c unsalted cashew butter
  • 1 heaping tsp vanilla
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed + 6 tbsp water, let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • heaping 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan.

Add garbanzo beans to the food processor, and pulse until they’re mostly broken up but still slightly chunky. Add maple, hemp milk, applesauce, cashew butter, vanilla, flax eggs, baking powder, and sea salt, and process until mostly smooth. It won’t be completely smooth, but a few chunks are okay. Add in oats, and pulse to combine, but leave the oat pieces intact like an oatmeal cookie (in other words, don’t let it go until the oats are completely smooth— you want texture!). Stir in chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top (and eat the extra off your fingers, bonus points for being vegan). Bake for 27- 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top is lightly browned.

Store any leftovers (ha, you’re funny) in the fridge, either in the pan covered in foil or a sealed container (I usually move them to a tupperware after a day or two).

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Rustic chunktastic cookies strike again

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Food girl strikes again.

And so does Cookie Thursday. Or okay fiiiiine…. cookie Wednesday. Picky picky.

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I haven’t posted a good, rustic chunktastic cookie in awhile but these are pretty fantastic. And sort of sorry (except not really) that the last eleventy posts have all featured cookies. My savory life these days is a little lacking, sadly, due to ridiculous scheduling (sort of my fault, sort of not) soooo… yeah. At least I have cookies! Life is really lame if you don’t have cookies, trust me on that one.

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And well, cookies.

Because, Thursday.

And look! I just can’t help it. Once a mermaid, always a mermaid. Beachy weekend day off= happy happy happy!

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I’m feeling slightly less than coherent at the moment—I just came from jazzercise and then pounded down some toast (hello, enthusiastic and energetic dancing requires immediate carb replenishment, obviously) and now it’s only 10:45 and I already want lunch. Um. Hello, stomach? You’re not being very cost effective right now. Kind of like when you make me so starving at work that I eat ALL of my food on my first break and then that apparently doesn’t make a dent so then I have to go scrounge up some other victuals. As I said.. Not cost effective. But also, I like eating… so really, maybe we can come to some middle ground here…

Like lunch. At 11. Ha.

Oaty Coconut Almond Cookies

Recipe lightly adapted from Curly Girl Kitchen, here! Thick, chewy cookies filled with oats and coconut. They have a fab almond taste from the almond butter and extract, so if almond is your jam these are for you. Whole grain, refined sugar free, and gluten free. I made a half batch for a yield of 12 [measurements for the half batch posted here].

  • 1/4 c smooth, unsalted almond butter
  • 1/6 c maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 + 1/8 c almond flour
  • 1/4 c unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 c dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together almond butter, maple, coconut oil, vanilla extract, almond extract, and egg. In a smaller bowl, combine oats, almond flour, coconut, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt. Stir wet into dry until combined, and fold in chocolate chips.

Drop by the large spoonful onto the prepared cookie sheet. These won’t spread too much, so feel free to cram them all on there. Bake for 8 minutes, then let cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or two. Remove them to a cooling rack until they cool completely. Store them in an airtight container, if they last that long…

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This has absolutely nothing to do with cookies but just illustrates how I’m really like five years old. Ice cream is not complete without rainbow sprinkles, everyone knows that…

Sunday things and pudding.

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Things.

Pictures today, since I’m feeling more visual and less like the chatterbox I usually am. 

This. No words needed.

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 Architecturally glorious, but…  

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Mother Nature always wins! 

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Look! A barley-rice yin-yang! 

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And now the real subject of this post… pudding!! 

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Mmm, pudding. There has been so much pudding in my life lately, this is a trend I’ll be continuing. This one is barley and brown rice (would have been all barley but I was a little short—a fortuitous happening since barley and brown rice go well together!), made with rice milk and coconut milk. I like it for breakfast with more milk added, or dessert with a chopped date or some raw honey (or maple). Kind of whatever floats your boat, any way you eat it, it’s delicious! Comforting in the tummy, warming, and soothing. 

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Coconut Barley-Brown Rice Pudding

Recipe lightly adapted from The Gouda Life, here! Makes a fairly good-sized vat… I got maybe 5 servings out of it? They were varying sizes though, some were bigger than others. 

  • 3/4 c purple barley, rinsed
  • 1/2 c brown rice (mine was kashikiri) 
  • 1 c original rice milk
  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 c light coconut milk 
  • 2 tsp cinnamon, plus more to taste
  • 2 tsp cardamom, plus more to taste
  • 3 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • shredded unsweetened coconut, for garnish
  • pistachios, for garnish

In a pot, combine barley, brown rice, rice milk, water, cinnamon, and cardamom. Bring to a boil, then turn down and let simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir in chopped dates. Once the liquid is mostly gone, add coconut milk 1/4 c at a time, stirring frequently (I found it helpful to stand there with a book and stir…it’s kind of like risotto), adding the next batch after the previous has been mostly absorbed. When all of the coconut milk is added, the barley should be mostly cooked (it should be a little chewy when done). Mine needed a little more time, so I added a bit more rice milk and let it cook longer. I tasted it as I went and added more cinnamon/cardamom or vanilla to taste. Let cool a bit, and top with shredded coconut and pistachios to serve. I liked mine with chopped date or raw honey, but maple is good too! 

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