In theory, marijuana edibles are a win-win prospect: you get to have your cake and eat weed, too. However, in practice, you often sacrifice the actual dessert experience. The weed flavor can be overpowering, and you’re still left wanting a delicious dessert that actually tastes good. It begets the question: is there a way to make cannabutter goodies taste less like weed, so that you can have a meaningful dessert experience and still get high?
What do the experts have to say?
To start, I hit up one of the commercial cannabis bakeries which I admire, Colorado’s Sweet Grass Kitchen. This pioneering commercial cannabis bakery has been in operation since 2009. They’re a big deal: their products are sold in over 500 dispensaries and over 2 million servings were dosed in just the past year (like whoa). Much of their success owes to a simple fact: their edibles, which include cookies, pies, brownies, and even some confections, taste good. Their snickerdoodles are satisfying as a cookie as well as an edible; their brownies don’t taste skunky or overly weed-y, but definitely deliver a satisfying dosage. So…what’s the secret?
I got to pick the brains of Jesse Burns and Kristy Gustafson from their marketing department, as well as executive chef Lauren Finesilver. Now, before anything else, they wanted me to tell you that overall, they discourage home baking and note that professionally prepared edibles will provide the most reliable and safe dosing. 21+ consumers should be sure to seek out products which are clearly marked and tested for potency.
However, for those who are curious and want to go rogue like me, they do have some wisdom to impart.
As executive chef Lauren Finesilver simply says, “it’s all about the cannabutter”. Your cannabutter is the flavor core of your edibles, and therefore should be considered of key importance. There are a few reasons why.
First, using cannabutter is important to flavor, as opposed to using an oil, concentrate, or shatter. Second, what goes into the cannabutter matters: Sweet Grass Kitchen employs full flowers versus trim. Unmanicured flowers go into a large kettle and through a proprietary slow cooking process; using the more “premium” product yields and overall superior and better-tasting cannabutter.
Another helpful tip from Finesilver? Intelligence with flavor combination matters. For instance, Sweet Grass Kitchen offers a seasonal ginger molasses cookie in which you can barely taste weed at all because of the assertiveness of the ginger. Or framed another way, if you don’t like the taste of weed in your edibles, a recipe like shortbread isn’t going to offer a whole lot to cover up the flavor.
Tips from the masters
These tips reflect some of the guiding words from Sweet Grass Kitchen as well as my own advice.
1. Use cannabutter versus hash oil or concentrate. Remember, cannabutter is made with butter, which is the not-so-secret ingredient that makes baked goods tender and delicious. As such, it’s a better choice overall than hash oil or concentrate.
2. Make cannabutter with full flowers versus trim. This was one of my favorite tips from Sweet Grass Kitchen. Anecdotally, I can tell you that using the full flower versus the trim is more expensive, but does yield a superior flavor. Sometimes you get a wood-y flavor element from trim that can give baked goods a slightly bitter aftertaste.
3. Use good butter and good weed. Ingredients matter! I personally suggest choosing a high quality unsalted butter, and using a good quality strain of marijuana. It might be more expensive, but it will give you better-tasting results.
4. Do a good job of straining. When making cannabutter, use a very fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to strain the weed so that you don’t get any leaves or buds in your finished cannabutter.
5. Be intelligent with flavor pairings. Marijuana has, well, an herbal flavor. As such, baked goods with herbal or spicy flavors are ideal pairings, as it will work in harmony with the weed flavor. As noted above, Sweet Grass Kitchen offers a killer ginger molasses cookie which doesn’t taste of weed at all.
6. Brown your cannabutter before baking. This is my own tip to share: brown your cannabutter before baking. Have you ever heard of browned butter? It’s butter which has been heated, toasted over low heat until it turns slightly darker in color, and then cooled and used as regular butter in a recipe. Browning the butter gives it a nutty flavor which I think mellows out the weed flavor.
Jessie Moore is a contributing writer to The Fresh Toast. The Alaska Cannabist has partnered with The Fresh Toast, a lifestyle and entertainment platform featuring coverage of cannabis, culture, comedy, food, drink, edibles and more.