Why yes, this Chocolate Quinoa Bark is our third consecutive Valentine’s Day recipe this week—but blame Martha Stewart, not me.
Although I grew up watching Martha Stewart religiously with my Grammy, I’ve never internalized Martha’s passion for time-consuming flourishes.
It’s admirable that Martha hand makes intricate origami valentine cards and festoons her four-layer Triple Chocolate Easter Cake with delicately spun sugar, but I’m more of a smear-the-icing-on-the-cake-and-hide-the-ugliest-part-in-the-back kind of gal.
I’m not proud; I’m not ashamed. It’s just me.
Thus, when I spotted a recipe for homemade heart-shaped Crunch bars in Martha Stewart Living, I surprised myself the most when I immediately stuck the page under Ben’s nose with an emphatic, “I have to make these.”
5 Star Review
“Made these for a bridal shower and everyone loved them”— Mir —
While Martha’s recipe called for sautéed Israeli couscous, I went for easy, accessible, always-on-hand quinoa.
Rather than adding uncooked quinoa directly to the chocolate, which I worried would be tooth-cracking hard, I started by puffing the quinoa on the stove.
Puffing the quinoa grains causes them to expand slightly, making them pleasant to munch, and they take on a toasty flavor and light, satisfying crunch (like these equally-giftable Honey Roasted Cashews).
When mixed with bittersweet chocolate, you’re left with a lovely contrast of flavors and textures that reminds me of a grown-up homemade Crunch bar (or a more decadent version of these Healthy No Bake Cookies).
How to Make Chocolate Quinoa Bark
Made with just two ingredients, this chocolate quinoa bark is perfect for personal snacking or gifting to someone special (these Red Wine Truffles are another great gift idea)
- Quinoa. Beyond its nutritional benefits, what I love about using protein-packed quinoa in this homemade chocolate bark is that it will last for weeks if stored AND it’s completely gluten free and vegan (if you use dairy-free chocolate) so just about anyone can enjoy this tasty treat.
- Chocolate. For the chocolate, use a good-quality brand that you enjoy eating on its own (or for these Chocolate Peppermint Covered Pretzels). I recommend something in the 60-65% range for best results.
- Heat a wide skillet over medium to medium high heat.
- When the pan reaches the proper temperature, puff the quinoa. Once puffed, set aside to cool.
Non-Stick vs. Stainless. Different pots will heat and puff the quinoa differently, so you may need to experiment with yours to find the right temperature so that the quinoa pops but does not burn. In my experience, I find that:
- Non-stick skillets do best over medium-high heat.
- Stainless steel works best over medium.
Test the Temperature. To test, sprinkle a few grains of quinoa into the pan when you feel it’s at the proper temperature. If the quinoa “pops” as soon as it hits the hot surface of the pan, it’s time to puff!
- Melt the chocolate until smooth.
- Fold in the puffed quinoa.
- Arrange cookies cutter shapes of your choice on a parchment-lined sheet pan and fill with the chocolate-quinoa mixture.
If you don’t have cookie cutters, you can follow standard chocolate bark directions by spreading the melted chocolate mixture on parchment paper to cool, then breaking it into pieces once it is set.
- Sprinkle with sea salt, if desired, then transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator to chill until set.
- Gently remove the chocolate from the cookie-cutter molds. ENJOY!
Tools Used to Make This Recipe
- Heart-Shaped Cookie Cutters. Or any shape of your choice.
- Parchment Paper. Helps prevent the chocolate from sticking and makes clean-up a breeze
- Half Sheet Pan. This one is my everyday all-purpose sheet pan.
Martha Stewart, will you be my Valentine?
Frequently Asked Questions
Depending upon the type of quinoa you purchase, you made need to rinse it first to remove any bitter taste. I’ve found that quinoa sold in the US is usually pre-rinsed (sometimes the package will specify), and none of the brands I’ve tried have tasted bitter. Unless I were to buy quinoa from a bulk bin, I skip rinsing. If you do prefer to rinse your quinoa, it will need to dry completely before being puffed. You can accomplish this by spreading the rinsed quinoa on an ungreased baking sheet and baking it in a 100 degrees F oven for one hour, or by spreading it into a single layer and leaving it out to dry overnight.
Sure! You may puff the quinoa up to a week in advance. Then complete the recipe as directed.
Yes. Quinoa and chocolate are both gluten-free food in their natural form. However, with that being said, you should always check your labels if you are sensitive to gluten to ensure they were processed in a certified gluten free facility and confirm they do not contain any gluten-containing additives.
Chocolate Quinoa Bark
- Puff the quinoa: Heat a wide skillet or pan that is at least 1-inch deep over medium to medium-high heat. (Note: different pots will heat and puff the quinoa differently, so you may need to experiment with yours to find the right temperature so that the quinoa pops but does not burn—I find that non-stick surfaces do best over medium-high heat, while stainless steel works best over medium.)
- Test your pot’s temperature: Drop a small pinch of quinoa into the pan. It should pop within a few seconds. If this does not occur, adjust your pot’s heat or wait a bit longer, until the test quinoa pops as described. Discard the “test” quinoa.
- Sprinkle a few tablespoons of quinoa over the pan's surface. Add only enough to coat the pan in a single layer, without crowding or overlapping the quinoa grains. As soon as the quinoa begins to pop (it may happen immediately), lift from the heat and shake the pan to agitate the grains. Continue shaking the pan off the heat, then as soon as the popping sound almost stops, pour the grains into a bowl or rimmed baking sheet (if you leave them in the pot, they may burn).
- Repeat, toasting the quinoa in batches until you have made the desired amount. If the quinoa tastes or smells burned, it has been overheated or left in the pan too long. Discard, as it will cause your chocolate bark to taste bitter.
- Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water), or melt it in the microwave in 20-second bursts, stopping to stir the chocolate between each. When only a few small pieces of chocolate remain, remove from the heat (or microwave) and stir until smooth, letting the residual heat finish melting it completely. Fold in the puffed quinoa.
- To make chocolate bark shapes: coat a cookie cutter of any shape with cooking spray, place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Pour the chocolate and quinoa into the cookie cutter, then sprinkle with a pinch of salt, if using. Alternatively, you can spread the chocolate in a single layer on a parchment or wax paper-lined baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to set. Gently remove the chocolate from the cookie cutters or, if making a single sheet, break the chocolate into pieces of the desired size. Enjoy immediately.
- TO STORE: Chocolate quinoa bark may be stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze the bark and store for up to 3 months. Enjoy straight from the freezer or let defrost in the fridge or on the counter before serving.
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More Heart-Shaped Treats
- Banana Oatmeal Pancakes
- Perfect Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
- Chocolate Heart Sandwich Cookies
- Heart Shaped Strawberry Hand Pies