Not Your Mother’s Pot Brownies
Balancing chocolate cravings and THC doses
Whether your chocolate brownies rise out of a Betty Crocker box or a complicated Ina Garten recipe, chances are you go that route because you get desirable, reliable results. My favorite brownie recipe is Katie Workman’s One-Pot Fudgy Brownies from the Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket. The recipe got its name because the batter comes together in the same pan in which the butter and chocolate get melted. I’ve adapted Workman’s recipe into a two-pot prospect.
Adding cannabis to a brownie recipe is not as straightforward as sprinkling a bit of weed into the batter. In fact, that’s a bad way to go because the brownies will taste oddly herby, maybe even skunky, and neither of the cannabinoids—the relaxing CBD or the high-inducing THC—will be readily available to your system.
Swapping out some fat in the recipe for cannabis fat is arguably the best way to get an even distribution of dose throughout your batch of baked goods, says Craig Letowski, kitchens operations coordinator for cannabis dealer Wellness Connection of Maine. My favorite brownie recipe calls for butter, but commercial cannabutter products are not yet widely available in the Maine markets. I’ve read all over the internet that it’s a fairly easy process to infuse melted butter with decarboxylated cannabis, flowers that have been heated gently to activate the cannabinoids. Theoretically I could use a crockpot to pull it off. But since this column is grounded in the premise that reliable dosage is the key to safely cooking with cannabis, I rejected DIY cannabutter as I couldn’t be certain how much THC would be in play.
“Prior to legal cannabis, dosing edibles was more art than science because there is a huge variability in the potency of different cannabis flowers, and factors like time and temperature can have a big impact,” says Charlie Langston, managing director at Wellness Connection of Maine.
The two products I inserted into Katie’s brownies were THC-infused dark chocolate and THC-infused granulated sugar, both sold by Wellness Connection of Maine into the medical market. To ensure each of the 12 brownies in the batch contained 5 milligrams of THC, 60 milligrams of THC needed to be in the batter. I made two batches. In the first, I replaced 1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate with 1 ounce infused dark chocolate containing 60 milligrams THC as certified by the company. In the second test, I substituted 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar with 3 tablespoons of infused sugar containing 60 milligrams of THC. Given that THC starts to lose its luster if baked in temperatures hotter than 365 degrees, I decreased my normal oven temperature from 350 to 325, and baked for 5 minutes longer than normal.
In my testing—verified by several friends who love brownies and are curious about edibles—the baked goods made with THC sugar came out on top as providing mainly because the dark chocolate turned out to be (rightly so) more chocolatey than the unsweetened chocolate. Letowski had warned me this might be the case and suggested I cut down on the amount of sugar, but since the amount of sugar is what determines how fudgy (versus cakey) any brownie is, I didn’t want to futz with recipe’s ratio. The brownies with the infused sugar hit the sweet spot for both chocolate decadence and responsible THC dosage.
Christine has lived in many places, including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, England and France. But her professional world has consistently been grounded in just two: in journalism and in the kitchen. Throughout her 30-year writing career, she’s covered sports, politics, business and technology. But for the past 10 years after completing culinary school, she’s focused on food. Her words and recipes about eating locally and sustainably have appeared in publications from The Portland Press Herald to Fine Cooking. Her award-winning cookbook Green Plate Special (link is: https://www.amazon.com/Green-Plate-Special-Sustainable-Delicious/dp/1944762140) was published in 2017. When she’s not laboring over a cutting board or a keyboard, she’s learning from her two semi-adult children, a community of food-minded friends, hundreds of productive Maine farmers, thousands of innovative chefs near and far, and her 30,000 honeybees.