What are they like?
-packed with cocoa, cinnamon, and pecans
These bars are are 5-ingredient, vegan, paleo, dairy free, and of course gluten free. They are a variation on the Mexican candy Alegria which calls for popped amaranth. It can be made with different spices, nuts or seeds. It is also generally made with honey and sugar, but the coconut nectar pairs nicely with the chocolate.
Make ahead, 5-ingredient, Paleo, Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut free, Stove-top, No-bake
2/3 cup amaranth (see note)
1/3 cup chopped pecans (or substitute 1/4 cup sesame seeds for nut free)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut nectar or honey*
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
Heat a large, deep pot over medium heat until it is quite hot, for about one and a half minutes. Sprinkle one tablespoon of amaranth into the pan and place the lid on the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and swirl every few seconds to keep the amaranth from burning. You will hear the amaranth popping. Once the popping slows down, pour the amaranth into a medium bowl and repeat the process until you have 1 cup of amaranth. Not all of the amaranth will pop and that is okay.
Stir the cinnamon into the amaranth.
Add the coconut nectar (or honey) to a microwavable measuring cup. Heat for about twenty seconds until it is warm. Whisk in the cocoa powder and salt.
Pour the mixture over the amaranth and stir to combine. Stir in the pecans.
Spoon the mixture onto a 12x12 piece of parchment paper or reusable wax cloth. Using your hands and the parchment paper, press the mixture into a square shape about 1/2-inch thick. Allow it to rest two hour to one day. The longer you let the bars rest the better they will hold together. The bars can be stored in a sealed container for about three days.
If you’ve never popped amaranth, you may want to have two bowls. The first time I made it, I burned a tablespoon or two and you can pour the burned batch into a separate bowl. You will most likely end up using about 1/2 cup of the amaranth to make 1 cup of popped amaranth.
If you serve these bars an hour after they are made they won’t hold their shape. If you need them to be ready to serve within an hour substitute 1/4 cup sugar for 1/4 cup of the honey. Heat the honey and the sugar in a small sauce pan to 250F/120C before adding the cocoa and pouring over the amaranth.
*Honey is not vegan