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When it comes to enjoying cannabis, nothing is more iconic, more universal, than the weed brownie. The only thing I love more on 4/20 than a finely-rolled marijuana cigarette is a cannabis-laced brownie confection. With my schedule tied up through the weekend, I decided I’d celebrate the holiday a bit early this year- and spend the afternoon blazing the devil’s lettuce with my aunt. Yes, my aunt. Even with a family and two dogs, she’s a culinary sage within the divine arts of potent proportions. With a long-held talent highly regarded among the higher community, I will simply say, my aunt makes the best pot brownies in the fucking world.
And she’s finally agreed to tell the world what’s in them. As one might expect, I was stoked.
Despite my entry into adulthood years ago, I’ve never had a chance to see what she put in the brownies. It was always a holiday token or a birthday gift, its secrets concealed in plastic by the time I got it. This was finally my chance to expose my aunt’s recipe to the world. Heading into the kitchen, I began the preparations – washing my hands and examining the long list of ingredients sitting on the counter, which included a box of brownie mix, an egg, nothing too out of the ordinary…at least that’s what I thought.
My aunt eventually came in and turned on the kitchen lights, cutting my investigation short. I glanced over and see she’s stuck on the phone, unaware of my transgressive curiosity. I signal to her my readiness, but she remains glued to the conversation. Saddling the cell up into her shoulder, she sits to continues to chat away while working on her crochet. The anticipation leaves me teeming, I carefully watch her crochet, each finishing thread one less standing in the way between me and the nectar of gods. Valhalla is beckoning my arrival.
She makes a comment about my cousin. “Middle School is definitely more his style,” she says grinning and crocheting. “He’s always on his phone though, little fucker even got an Instagram account.” I lean back and grin, wondering if all aunts are this cool.
She ends the call and points over to the stack of ingredients. “That’s it right there if you want to write those down.” I begin to jot down the ingredients, nothing even remotely interesting is found.
- One Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate mix
- ⅓ cup of vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup of water
- ⅓ cup of applesauce
I pick up a brownie mix box adjacent to the pile and examine the directions.
“Any basic brownie recipe will do, whatever mix you want,” she said as she ruffles the box open, pulling out the plastic bag of mix. “Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate is my personal favorite.”
She points up at the cabinet above the microwave, “Grab the two bags in that cabinet.” Of course! finally- the secret ingredients, I have made contact. I swing the cabinet open and jerk the two bags down.
Despite the promising ring of “two bags”, both were half of what I imagined would go into this magical recipe. But what was especially puzzling was the color. While one looked it’s Sunday best, the other was the scattered coals of many a days puff – just plain old dirt weed. Luckily, she jumped in to clarify, “ Yeah that’s the recycled greens, I just vape that first, saves a ton of money.”
I ask, “Well why don’t you make Cannabutter?” She responds with a laugh, then regains her steely kitchen demeanor. “I have never gotten high from those, and it takes a shitload of weed. [With] this way you get to vape and reuse, its dual purpose, dual potency.”
Despite the explanation, I remain confused, and my question ultimately goes unanswered. Good start to my training, as she opens the bags and begins the prep.
Pilfering through the ingredients clustered across the counter, she begins to rattle off the instructions with ease – all while keeping the focus on her brewing stand – you’d think she invented the brownie. “Take an eighth of new greens, once finely-ground, and disperse it over vegetable oil, with the heat set to a medium-low simmer.” She turns, signaling me to smell, “Then cook it until it has a nutty aroma, you’ll know it when you smell it.Then take it off- the appearance will darken from green to brown.”
She warns about not leaving the greens unduly unshredded, nor simmering too hot, as both in unison could lead to “flavor-induced vomit”. “From there, take the old, recycled greens and mix them with a ¼ cup of applesauce to moisten it up. Then take a blender- my bullet chopper does well- and mix it into a fine paste.”
When I ask why applesauce, she explained the importance of its texture in mixing with the old greens and its cohesiveness with oil. “It has just the right fat content and texture to not ruin the batch but also mesh perfectly with old greens.” She then takes the blender and scoops out its innards into a pan, letting the two swirl into a slow but successful merge, only to immediately dump it into the baking pan. “Then mix the paste-like ‘old shit’ in with the simmering ‘new shit ’, then combine the ‘converging shit’ in the brownie mixture, minus the oil you already added earlier,” she said.
Opening the oven door, she puts the sheet in before pointing at the monitor. “Bake it to the instructions-325ºF to 45-50 minutes, or 350ºF for 30 minutes with consistent checks. Be careful not to go over 350, too much heat could dry out the whole batch.”
Are you taking notes yet? You should be.
For the next 40 minutes, we wait, taking turns on watch. On her third rotation, she signals – the batch is done. She slips on her baking mitt and lowers the oven gate, releasing an aroma that lifts the room by its nostrils; you’ll know the nutty aroma when you smell it. As the dust settles and regains the gravitational properties of our three dimensions, we gaze upon our long-awaited bounty.
Cutting off two bricks of this Columbia gold, we sample our creation, deciding on some rules in between each bite; some caution tape that should be drawn on a weed-to-know basis. After all, these brownies had the psychoactive potential of melting the tendons off your cheeks. In layman’s terms – not mine- it’s some shit that could give Hunter S. Thompson the vapors.
“Strong caution – if this is your first- eat a fourth of a brownie, do not eat a whole brownie,” she reminded me. Common standards in the practice of herbal disobedience call for around 10 milligrams of THC for a relatively, five being the usual for newbies. But if you do decide to find yourself in bat country and began to have “the fear”, it’s cool compadre- just try to stay indoors and stick to the basics. “Nothing sobers me up like Ally McBeal,” she said, as she puts it on I move to the other room.
While some premeditated measures need to be taken, the payoff in this recipe is an investment beyond what any spontaneous smoke session could provide. And what better way is there to spend the holidays than getting stoned in good company.