Popped Amaranth Dark Chocolate Bark is a wonderful healthy sweet treat. It is simple to make, coming together in about 5 minutes. You can add in whatever add-ins you choose, so make it your own!
Why pop amaranth, or any grain for that reason? Well, as whole-grain generally aren’t digestible, they would just make their way through, they need to be opened or softened for us to be able to digest them. Popping is the perfect way to access them. Plus, aside from heating the pan, this really only takes about 10 seconds- at the most. I should also note, ANY grain can be popped, but I chose amaranth for this one.
Now, here’s how to pop the grains- heat a heavy bottom pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes. You want the pan to be really hot, but not smoking. Once it is heated, depending on the size of your pan, add in 1 teaspoon- 1 tablespoon at the most. The grains should start popping IMMEDIATELY, or within just a few seconds.. If they don’t they will burn before they pop. Once a majority of them have popped, remove them from the pan quickly. If you need more, simply add them to the heated pan and start again. For this batch I used about 2/3 cup, I did 3 batches to get me there. They will cool quickly, and ready to be added in.
Next, to really important matters. What type of chocolate to use? There are a lot of options out there. I love dark chocolate, if that is not your thing, use something milder like semi-sweet, milk chocolate, or even white chocolate, they all work here. My recommendation is not to use candy melts, they have so little actual chocolate, it just isn’t really the best. I used Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, they are 60% cacao, which is just right for me! I also like to melt them with a teaspoon of coconut oil. You can melt in the double boiler, but I think it is easier in the microwave. Heat in 30-second intervals, checking and mixing between.
When you take the chocolate chips from the microwave, they should not be melted completely when they come out. If it is melted all the way in the microwave, you have heated them too much. Remove when there are still small chunks and stir until they melt. It should only take a minute or so. You can see what my chunky chocolate looked like below.
For your add-ins, you can use whatever you want. I used golden raisins (one of my favorite things with dark chocolate), dried cherries, chopped dried mangoes, pepitas, and the popped amaranth.
Add about half of your ingredients to the chocolate. Mix to combine.
Pour the chocolate onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread it to the thicknesses you want. I made mine fairly thin, but you can make yours thicker if you prefer.
Top with the remaining ingredients. Make sure to top the chocolate when it is still wet and not set. Press gently if you need to. Allow the chocolate to set. I like to leave it at room temp. If your house is too warm, leave it at room temp for 30 minutes- 1 hour, then place it in the fridge to finish.
I highly recommend licking that spatula and cleaning the bowl well, you don’t want to let any of that goodness go to waste!
Now, to finish it, break it into chunks. Simple, right? I prefer to do this with gloves or ziplock bags over my hands, then you don’t get any fingerprints on your chocolate. Anal, I know.
The chocolate stores well at room temp or in the fridge if it is too hot in your home.
If you are you like me and dark chocolate is your thing, let me share a few other options I have!