What the heck is Amaranth? I had no idea, but the cookies in the photos of Amaranth Cookies in EveryDay Cook looked delicious, so I had to go find out.
Amaranth, it turns out, is a grain. The picture I posted here is of Amaranth that I got at EarthFare last week, and it is some really interesting stuff. First of all, the seeds are T. I. N. Y. It would take at least two amaranth seeds to make the same size as one mustard seed. I think even Kosher salt grains may be larger than amaranth.
This is definitely the weirdest cookie recipe I’ve ever made. The first thing you have to do is make candied orange peel (assuming you don’t keep that around on general principal). Alton Brown includes instructions for this, and it takes a while, so I did the first part two days ago and finished it up this morning. Here’s a word of advice. If you ever make candied orange peels, DO NOT pour it out onto waxed paper, unless you use at least two layers. <sigh>
The ingredient list calls for 75g (aka: 2.64oz, or about a half-cup) of amaranth, which then gets popped, like popcorn. [I made a video, which I couldn’t post to my page here, but I put it up on YouTube HERE.] When I saw that in the directions, I thought it would just pop and snap and jump around like mustard seeds do when they’re on a frying pan, and it does, but it also literally pops like popcorn.
The volume of amaranth, once popped, is closer to 2.5 cups. If you’re old enough to remember Sugar Smacks cereal, the popped amaranth has about the same texture and consistency.
The recipe has a very small amount of fat (butter), and only one egg and a half teaspoon of vanilla are the only liquids included, so the “dough”, and I use that term VERY loosely, does not hold together very well. Amaranth is naturally gluten-free, so that doesn’t help. I had to really pack the stuff into a small ice cream scoop to get it to stay together.
The finished cookies are kind of fragile, at least on the edges. There are lots of crumbs, because there wasn’t much in the way of a binder in the recipe, which are gonna be delicious on ice cream later… The flavor is not super-sweet, which I like quite a bit, and very nutty. They have a lot of texture, and are very crunchy. I’m definitely gonna play with this one a bit!