Makes about 80 1 ½-inch squares
- 1 10-ounce cone piloncillo (Mexican raw sugar), roughly chopped (it’s easiest to chop piloncillo if you microwave it for 30 seconds first)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 5 cups puffed amaranth (available from health food stores or from NuWorldAmaranth.com)
- 1 cup toasted chopped nuts (peanuts, pecans, walnuts, practically any nut will work), optional
- 1 cup raisins (or other dried fruit in small pieces), optional
- Lightly oil a baking sheet or lay in a nonstick liner (like a Silpat).
- In a small medium saucepan, combine the piloncillo with the honey, lime juice and ½ cup water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, stir until the piloncillo has dissolved, then wash down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in water. Let boil undisturbed—no stirring—until the mixture is reaches about 300 degrees (a small drop in a cup of cold water will form a hard brittle strand).
- While the sugar syrup is cooking, measure the amaranth (and nuts and raisins if you’re using them) into a large bowl. When the syrup is ready, remove it from the heat, add the butter and stir until incorporated. Immediately drizzle the syrup evenly over the amaranth, then quickly work it into the amaranth with a wooden spoon, making sure that all the grains are coated. Without hesitation, scoop the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and press firmly it into an even 12 by 17-inch square. When cool, cut the alegrias into small squares or rectangles.