Cooking with marijuana isn't always as easy as it looks. Burnt space cakes, weed butter that tastes like compost, a pasta sauce that doesn't get you high: these are just a few of the problems that regularly vex would-be edibles chefs at home.
But it doesn't need to be that way. In order to learn more about how to make pot play nice with food, I got in touch with Ruben Tillart, who works at PLLEK restaurant in Amsterdam and who invented a Super Lemon Haze ice cream for the annual Cannabis Cup.
When I ask Tillart why people fail to get stoned from their weed-infused food, he explains that it's a matter of temperature. "Cakes shouldn't be baked in a oven that's too hot—320° Fahrenheit will do the trick—or you will burn off all the THC," he tells me. "Also, weed butter is very important, and you have to make that in a bain-marie. Without weed butter, there's really nothing you can do."
Save your precious herb tips for smoking, Tillart says, because you only need the leaves for the butter. "When you wash your weed waste and you infuse it into butter, you can extract a large amount of THC," he explains. "To make the butter is simple: Fill a saucepan three-quarters of the way with water, and place it over low heat. Cover the saucepan with a metal bowl containing an equal ratio of butter and marijuana leaves. Leave to infuse for one or two hours; this way you waste the least amount of THC. Make sure to strain well after, or there will be plant remains in your butter. Cool in the fridge until the butter is a greenish yellow and is easy to spread (or freeze it for later use)."
As with any product, freshness is important. "There is no mucking about with small crumbs, which is the case when you use dried-out weed," Tillart says.
But not all weed butter is made equally—and you can easily end up with a lipid that's far too potent. How do you ensure you're making a cake that will get you pleasantly high and not cause you to hallucinate visions of giant rodents?
"For a cake tin with a diameter of ten inches, four grams of weed is plenty," Tillart says. "One gram per person is the rule. This should get you stoned for a couple of hours."
To enhance the effects, he notes, you should eat chocolate. "Chocolate activates all kinds of neurotransmitters, including anandamide, which is the same substance your body releases when you're stoned. Dark chocolate—at least 52 percent cocoa—will boost any weed recipe. It makes your trip much more powerful."
With that knowledge under my belt, I needed to find out how to make edibles that are actually, well, edible. When making a toasted cheese sandwich with weed, the fat in the melted cheese adheres perfectly to the cannabis, but the buds taste like organic waste. So I asked Pierre Wind, a TV chef whose restless demeanor suggests that he could use a calming doobie every now and then, for some tips on cooking.
"First of all, don't use sweaty, pre-packaged slices of cheese," he tells me. "A nice, mature farmhouse cheese is very tasty. The choice of bread is also very important. To get a really spectacular grilled cheese sandwich, add a slice of cheese to the outsides as well. Don't shove your sandwich in the microwave, but fry it in a skillet with some butter—this adds that lovely crunch to your sandwich."
Wind also suggests putting your male plants into the microwave for a few minutes, then leaving them out to cool. Once they resemble dried herbs, grind the leaves in a mortar or food processor, and rub the powder onto the cheese slices on your sandwich. "Grind some fresh black pepper on top and you're ready for takeoff," Wind says.
Cheese sandwiches are easy enough for most of us, but what about more ambitious marijuana meals? I've seen some disgusting attempts at weed omelettes online. "Don't blame the weed," Wind says. "Start with the basics: just make a good omelette baveuse."
That would be the slightly runny style of omelette popular in France. "It's simply an omelette that is still soft on the inside," Wind notes. "For one person, whisk two eggs with a dash of cream. Finely chop seven large weed leaves by first rolling them up and then slicing them. Put them into a mortar, add some truffle oil, and grind it until you have a smooth paste. Mix it into the eggs, add salt and pepper to taste, and pour it into a non-stick pan coated with a splash of hot oil."
But don't succumb to the urge to stir the eggs immediately: Leave the pan on the fire for a minute without touching it, Wind says. "Then start swirling the pan like a madman. This makes sure that the mixture will bind. After you've swirled the pan for 30 seconds, you can flip the eggs to one end of the pan. Leave the pan over a low heat for 30 more seconds, but don't overcook the omelette—it should remain baveuse."