“A” is for Amaranth

Happy second day of Vegan MoFo 2010! I had trouble falling asleep last night because I couldn’t think of an “A” food that wasn’t boring (apples are yummy and all, but I wanted more excitement). It wasn’t until the wee hours of this morning that I thought of the jar of amaranth grains in my pantry. Perfect! That was enough motivation to lure me from the cozy depths of my bed and into the kitchen for a creative experiment:

Jam-A-Print Cookies! [Recipe follows]

Yes, thumbprint cookies have been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth, but I doubt those cookies were made with amaranth grains! Wait, what the heck is amaranth? Here are some fun facts for you:

1. Amaranth is a plant that grows as a weed. The seeds produced are harvested for grain (and some varieties are harvested for greens!).
2. Amaranth is gluten-free!
3. Amaranth has unusually high amounts of protein.
4. Amaranth is high in iron.
5. Amaranth, unlike most other grains, contains lysine, an essential amino acid.

What’s not to like? For such a tiny little grain, amaranth is pretty powerful! The cookies pictured above are mighty healthy, and can be made sugar-free depending on the jam you use. They can also be made gluten-free if you dare to experiment with flours!

Jam-A-Print Cookies (the “A” stands for Amaranth!)

Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups amaranth grain
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
scant 1/2 cup coconut oil (already melted)
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
scant 1/2 cup water
About 1/3 cup jam of your choice (I used Ginger-Fig Jam* and Strawberry Jam)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment or a non-stick baking mat.
2. In a spice grinder, working in small batches, process the amaranth grain until it resembles coarse flour. Some whole grain pieces are preferable. Measure out 1 1/4 cups of flour and set the rest aside for another use.
3. In a large bowl, stir together amaranth flour, all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, oat bran, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
4. In a small bowl, stir together coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Don’t add the water yet.
5. Add your wet ingredients (minus the water) to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. The mixture should seem a bit coconut-oily, but don’t fret that will soon change!
6. Gradually add the water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until a nice dough forms. It will be tacky to the touch, but should hold together nicely when rolled (or scooped) into balls. If your dough is too dry, add more water.
7. Using about 2 teaspoons of dough per cookie, form balls by rolling (or do what I did and use a cookie scoop) the dough between your palms. Place balls on prepared cookie sheet.
8. Using your thumb, or any finger, gently make an indent in each cookie. Fill each indent with jam (amount will vary depending on the size of your indent – probably about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon).
9. Bake in your oven for 10-12 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly golden and cookies are firm to the touch. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for several minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

*Ginger-Fig Jam? Why yes! My friend and I spent Monday afternoon creating lots of wonderful yummies in her kitchen and Ginger-Fig Jam was the final masterpiece. Stay tuned for my “F is for…” post because it just might feature the jam and a recipe! Ooooooh!!!

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17 thoughts on ““A” is for Amaranth

  1. Those sound yummy. I had a bag of amaranth hanging around for a while, but I could never find anything good to do with the stuff. I never thought to make cookies with it! I love your MoFo theme, by the way.

  2. Yum, these look so fun! I’ve never used amaranth in baking, only as a porridge, but I imagine it’d be wonderful and pop in your mouth! I used to make thumbprint cookies often but haven’t in quite a few years. I’ll have to try these

  3. You totally got one up on me, I mean getting out of bed and making cookies. I thought I was strange for making cookies at 11 or so at night.
    Great use of Amaranth, my husband loves thumbprint cookies but these are way better for you than the ones I make.

  4. yay for A! we have amaranth in the house, i’ve just never actually cooked with it before. i’ve enjoyed in a flour form, but i need to be brave and give it a whirl in some other recipes. i’m digg’n your MoFO theme this year, Amy – and might i also add that i’m totally jealousfaced on your kitchen dates with kittee! sounds like you ladies have super fun and delicious days!

  5. whoa! I’ve still never tried amaranth… I’ll get around to it one of these days. Plus, cookies just might be the way to lure me in!

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