Brownies, anyone?

Medical-marijuana ‘edibles’ give baking a whole new meaning

Brownie ingredients all ready to go (pot butter is at bottom left.)

Brownie ingredients all ready to go (pot butter is at bottom left.)

Photo By Meredith J. Graham

The pungent aroma of marijuana filled the kitchen as soon as Sophia spooned the butter containing it into a bowl filled with melting chocolate. The theme of this baking lesson was edibles and turning something typically smoked into something tasty to eat.

Sophia—a real Chicoan who preferred to not be named—grew up in San Francisco in the ’60s and is a self-proclaimed hippie. She grows all her own marijuana, starting with cross-pollinating male and female plants to obtain seeds. And when harvest season comes, she doesn’t like to see any parts of the plants go to waste. So, she takes the little bits—“shake”—and turns them into pot butter for cooking. From there, she makes brownies, cookies, truffles, banana bread. It’s best to make edibles out of foods that can be easily portioned out, she said, so desserts tend to work well.

Edibles are gaining in popularity, Sophia said. And she would know—she’s been cooking with pot since 1972, “when we just threw the pot into the pre-made mix and ended up with brownies with roughage.” It’s safe to say she’s improved her recipe over the years.

Once the mixture of pot butter and unsweetened chocolate cooled, Sophia quickly added the other ingredients, poured them into a pan and got those brownies baking. Sophia often bakes for friends and neighbors with cancer, arthritis and other ailments who prefer not to smoke their medicine.

“I’ve found that people like the elderly and cancer patients, they don’t want to smoke—but they’ll eat it,” she said. For one, smoking is not good for you or your lungs. And two, some people prefer not to smell like smoke, or not to have their homes smell like smoke. There is, however, a difference in the high.

“Shake” waiting to be used to make pot butter.

Photo By Meredith J. Graham

“When you smoke it, it’s more light and feathery,” she said. “When you eat it, it’s deeper.” Plus, it takes longer for the high to kick in when you eat marijuana than when you smoke it. So, wait at least an hour after eating before deciding to gobble a second brownie, she advised.

Another trend Sophia’s seen evolve over the past few years is the increase in demand for sugar-free edibles. For diabetic patients, Sophia substitutes maltitol for sugar. Splenda would work just as well, she said.

When the timer went off, Sophia jumped back into action. She pulled the pan out of the oven and revealed her perfectly baked treats. The scent in the room had changed over the past half hour, and the smell of chocolate had taken over. And after tasting just the tiniest morsel (really!), this reporter can attest that the taste of chocolate also dominated any other flavors.

The finished result—makes about 20 2-inch brownies.

Photo By Meredith J. Graham

Pot butter recipe

Using a double boiler or a bowl on top of a pot, fill the bottom with 1-2 inches water. On top, place 4 sticks butter. Melt slowly. For marijuana—use 1 to 2 ounces (Sophia uses 2), depending on desired strength—remove stems and seeds. Run through food processor or coffee grinder until very fine. Once butter has melted, add marijuana. Simmer on low about 45 minutes, stirring every five minutes. Remove from heat, let sit for 15 minutes, then strain the butter using cheesecloth into a bowl. (Once cheesecloth is cool enough, squeeze out remaining butter.) Cover and refrigerate until solid. Freeze for up to a month.

Brownie recipe


1/2 cup pot butter

3 squares unsweetened chocolate

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Double boil chocolate, mix in butter. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, add sugar and eggs. Beat until thoroughly mixed. Add chocolate mixture, mix well. Gradually stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in vanilla extract. Spread evenly into well-greased 12-by-7-inch baking pan. Bake 30-35 minutes. Cool and cut into 2-inch squares.

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