Monday, May 31, 2010

Abstract Expressionist Amaranth Candy

Inspired by the traditional Mexican candy called "Alegria" (See my previous post - Eternal Amaranth) and Jackson Pollock's paintings, I created these abstract amaranth candy spider webs. Now, this is art you can eat! Pollock was introduced to liquid paint after attending a workshop lead by Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros in 1936. He later experimented with dripping liquid paint directly over canvas to create his signature pieces.

Do you want to give it a try? You can buy amaranth seeds in Latin American produce stores, or on-line. Amaranth is highly nutritious, and once popped it has a mild nutty flavor. You can use these abstract caramel "webs" to decorate ice cream, fruit salad, cup cakes, or any other dessert. You'll need the following ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of raw amaranth seeds
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • cooking spray
  • Dessert of your choice

You'll also need:

  • A good non-stick pan
  • A sheet of aluminum foil
  • A cookie tray, or flat pan
Start by popping your amaranth seeds in the microwave, like you would do popcorn. Measure two tablespoons of amaranth inside a deep bowl. Toast in the microwave under the "popcorn" setting for about 12 - 15 seconds. Keep an eye on your amaranth seeds, if the dish is too shallow only a portion of the seeds may pop, like in the picture below.

If this happens, choose a bowl that is not quite so shallow. Don't return the un-popped amaranth to the microwave or it will burn. Continue popping the amaranth in small two tablespoon batches until you have a quarter cup. You are looking at light, fluffy amaranth like the one pictured on the left

Line a cookie tray with aluminum foil. Spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Spread half of the amaranth all over the foil, making sure they are evenly placed all over the pan. Save the rest of the seeds for later. Keep the pan near your stove before you start the next step...

Next, you are going to make some dry caramel. You are going to melt the sugar in a good non-stick pan over medium/high heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon. The sugar will melt and turn into liquid once you heat it, you just need to be patient and stir often. I don't use a candy thermometer, or time myself. Just pay attention and stop heating the sugar once it completely dissolves and turns into a nice, golden brown caramel. Be careful! It is going to be VERY HOT!

This is when the fun begins. Turn the heat off, and place the hot pan on a trivet. Using a spoon, start pouring and dripping the caramel over the amaranth seeds. Do it quickly before it starts getting hard. Pour the rest of the amaranth seeds on top of the warm caramel.

Refrigerate the tray for about an hour in order to solidify the caramel. Start picking up the caramel in pieces, and use to decorate your favorite dessert. The caramel webs will keep in an air tight container for about a week, if you store them between waxed paper. Enjoy!

Learn more about Amaranth by visiting my previous post here
Visit Jackson Pollock's paintings at the artist's tribute page


  1. Very nice. I heard about amaranth candy and was wondering how to make it. Thanks!

  2. Tzoalli or now Algeria How about the Amaranth, Chia and Agave the Aztecs used to make a bread with in the form of Gods. Not a vegan just diabetic and thanks to Chia seed and a lack of grains I am off the needle and meds.