This post featuring my chocolate covered crispy quinoa clusters is sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill. Please see my disclosures.
When this whole stay-at-home order started, I, like most people, found myself taking stock of my pantry.
My husband and I went on a mission to eat through our pantry, fridge and freezer. We wanted little food to go to waste, and we wanted to truly appreciate the food we already had on hand.
As I rummaged through my pantry, I found a few unopened bags of Bob’s Red Mill’s tri-colored quinoa.
Don’t get me wrong, I love quinoa. I simply forgot I had a few bags already because they were pushed to the back and out of sight. What a find!
I brushed off the old bags, and started to dream up fun ways to enjoy this nutty pseudo-grain.
Being at home has really tapped into my creative baking side. That’s why below you’ll find a creative recipe for my chocolate covered crispy quinoa clusters.
I was surprised at how delicious and fun this recipe turned out, and I’ve already made this recipe two additional times since I first dreamed up the recipe last month. I can’t wait to share it with you!
All About Quinoa
Before we get to my recipe, I want to first talk quinoa.
Most people don’t realize that quinoa is a naturally gluten-free whole grain, although technically considered a seed vs. grain. Quinoa is a traditional grain of the Andes, and the mainstay food of the ancient Incas who considered it a sacred crop.
Please note that, when buying quinoa, look for bags labeled gluten free as some packaged quinoa may contain gluten. Read my article, Is Quinoa Gluten Free?, to learn more.
Quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor (and smell) and a fluffy, rice-like texture when cooked.
Nutritionally, quinoa is the only plant-based complete protein. It’s loaded with iron and fiber, too.
Bob’s Red Mill’s tri-color quinoa is a blend of organic white, black, and red quinoa, offering up a feast for the eyes too.
In this post, I’ll show you how to turn this beautiful tri-colored quinoa into a tasty chocolate snack.
How to Make Crispy Quinoa
To make chocolate covered crispy quinoa clusters, you need to first find a way to make your quinoa crispy.
I tried a few methods, and finally settled in on this one.
You first cook the quinoa, with water, as instructed on the packaging. Once it’s cooked and soft, you spread it into a single layer on top of a parchment paper-lined baking sheet to cool.
Next, bake the quinoa in a 400º F oven for 25-30 minutes until it starts to lightly toast and brown. You’ll want to watch the quinoa closely so it doesn’t burn, and mix the quinoa halfway through baking and every five minutes as it begins to brown.
Once the quinoa is lightly browned, remove it from the oven and allow it to fully cool.
Assembling the Chocolate-Covered Crispy Quinoa Clusters
Now that your quinoa is ready, it’s time to melt your chocolate.
Add your chocolate to a microwave safe dish with a little avocado oil. You can use coconut oil or any vegetable oil to help make your chocolate silky smooth.
Melt it by microwaving it for 30 seconds, then mixing it, and the microwaving it in 10 second increments (mixing in between) until chocolate is just melted and smooth. Do not over zap the chocolate or it will buckle and clump.
Set aside about 1 tablespoon of the crispy quinoa (this will be used later to sprinkle on top of the crisps), and then combine the remaining crispy quinoa with dried cranberries (optional, but recommended), and gently mix.
Now pour the chocolate into the crispy quinoa mixture until every bit of quinoa is coated in the rich, melted chocolate.
Scoop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, then sprinkle the tops with the reserved crispy quinoa. Place baking sheet in the refrigerator for a least one hour to allow the chocolate to harden and set.
This recipe makes about 12 ice-cream scoop-sized quinoa crisps.
The Taste Test
These chocolate covered crispy quinoa clusters are sinfully delicious. They have amazing flavor, crunchy texture, and just the right amount of chocolate sweetness.
They taste reminiscent of those crispy chocolate bars you used to eat before you started eating gluten free.
They are so good, and I’ve been known to eat 2-3 in one sitting. Don’t judge. It’s hard to stop at just one!
Crispy Quinoa for the Win!
Crispy quinoa can also be used as a crunchy salad topper in lieu of croutons. Try it, it’s delicious!
After making the crispy quinoa, store it in an old glass jar, then sprinkle it on your salad at will.
Please note the tri-colored quinoa is tested and confirmed gluten free in Bob’s Red Mill’s quality control lab, and it’s also USDA Organic and Non-GMO.
Chocolate Covered Crispy Quinoa Clusters
- Cook quinoa by adding quinoa and water to a pot. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to low and cover. Quinoa will be ready in about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour cooked quinoa on sheet and spread it into a single layer. Allow quinoa to cool for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400º F. Put quinoa in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, mixing occasionally, until quinoa is brown and crispy (but not burnt). Remove from oven and allow mixture to cool for at least 30 minutes.
- When quinoa is cool, combine chocolate and oil in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then mix mixture. Microwave in 10 second increments thereafter, mixing every 10 seconds, until chocolate is melted. Do not overmelt.
- Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Reserve about 1 tablespoon of the crispy quinoa (set aside). This will be used for the topping.
- Add crispy quinoa and dried cranberries to chocolate mixture and mix until well combined.
- Spoon mixture into 12 individual quinoa clusters on baking sheet, then sprinkle reserved crispy quinoa on top of each cluster.
- Refrigerate clusters, on baking sheet, for at least 1 hour until chocolate is set. Store uneaten clusters in the fridge in a sealed container.