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Baked to Perfection: Celebrate 4/20 with This Recipe for the Platonic Ideal of Pot Brownies

Hope Frahm, the head chef at Denver’s Love’s Oven, talks with MERRY JANE about the archetypal pot brownie and why 4/20 is a paid holiday in her cannabis-filled kitchen.

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All photos courtesy of Hope Frahm and Love's Oven

From outside the cannabis industry, one may imagine working in an edibles kitchen as a rather lifted experience — what with the “necessary” taste-testing as well as the snacking opportunities. Love’s Oven head chef Hope Frahm says that’s far from the reality in her Denver-based operations, noting that she strives to hire only the most fastidious folks to work behind the scenes.

Frahm — a classically-trained pastry chef with experience working under culinary icons like Wolfgang Puck — chatted with MERRY JANE about how first-timers tend to fuck up cooking with weed, Colorado’s edibles market, and our Most High Holiday. Enjoy Frahm’s ultra-shareable S’More Brownies recipe, too — and consider making two batches for all those 4/20 parties. You’re welcome in advance.

Ingredients

5 tablespoons cannabutter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups chocolate chips
½ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 extra large eggs
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tabelspoon + 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup marshmallow bits

Equipment needed: rubber spatula, 9”-by-13” greased pan, electric mixer.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt cannabutter and unsalted butter together in a microwave-safe bowl.

Add chocolate chips to the butter. Melt in microwave in 30 second intervals until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth with no lumps. Do not burn the chocolate. Set aside for later use.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

Combine sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl. Mix with electric mixer until well combined.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until there are no lumps. Do not over-mix. Add in the chocolate mixture and continue mixing until there are no streaks left in the bowl.

Pour into a well-greased pan and spread evenly in pan. Top evenly with marshmallow bits and graham cracker crumbs. Lightly press toppings into batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the center does not jiggle. Cool completely before cutting. Then enjoy! Continue reading below for our interview with Hope from Love's Oven. 

MERRY JANE: You're a classically trained pastry chef. Tell us how you started incorporating weed to your craft.
Hope Frahm: I was a chef in Las Vegas four years ago and never thought I would ever infuse any food with marijuana. Being a chef, you are always looking to make new things, to push the boundaries of gastronomy and to be the first to do them. Did I make the first pot brownie…? No, I just figured out how to make thousands of them a day the same way, every time.

You've said before you're into molecular gastronomy. What was your entry like to that specific field?
Molecular gastronomy is just the science of cooking. My entry into that would be continually researching and understanding how cannabis works in food. I’m always asking questions and finding out new things — like how can I manipulate cannabinoids to ensure a consistent outcome and how cannabinoids affect my end-product. On top of making edibles genotype-specific, we also make them strain-specific. This is convenient for the customer to know what they getting whether they smoke or eat cannabis. This is convenient for me as well because I can pair different strains with different flavors.

What would you say is the first or most common mistake newbies to the edible scene make?
First-timers making edibles are generally making them too strong in fear that they won’t be strong enough. It’s the same for those who try to eat too many milligrams because they don’t feel the effects right away. Anybody who is attempting to make edibles at home are at a severe disadvantage than I am, simply because the potency of the butter is unknown. It’s better to start off low and go slow.

Tell me how Love's Oven was conceived. What are some of the most surprising obstacles that have come up?
Love's Oven was conceived in 2009 as the legal medical marijuana industry was born in Colorado. It began as a home-based business, selling to one dispensary. The current CEO, Peggy Moore, got involved in 2011. In 2012, the build-out of Love's Oven's first commercial kitchen in Denver was completed, and we began serving more and more medical patients. Our most surprising obstacle happened in January of 2014 with the legalization of adult-use marijuana. Turned out we were only one of a very few edibles producers licensed to serve this market and we had to grow very rapidly to keep up with the demand!

How have you seen the edibles market evolve over the past decade?
The edibles market in Colorado has evolved to the point that manufacturers are infusing almost any food you can think of with marijuana. That being said, those who are succeeding are keeping up with current food and flavor trends and finding ways to better infuse their products.  We are seeing "micro-dosing" emerge as a niche in the industry. Micro-dosed edibles contain smaller amounts of THC per serving than the standard of 10mg.

How would you describe women's role in the cannabis industry? In the past year? Five years? How does it look in the near future?
Women were presented with a unique opportunity with the advent of legal marijuana. By nature, women are not only risk-takers but are also very nurturing, which equips us well to serve patients and educate consumers of marijuana. Five years ago, women were literally shaping the industry as it emerged. In the past year, we have seen more and more women entering the industry not necessarily in the "plant touching" side of the business, but in ancillary businesses that directly support those that work with the plant. We expect this trend to continue as women have really embraced the nascent industry and are really going all out to make sure it succeeds not just in Colorado, but world-wide.

What do you think most people get wrong about edibles or marijuana culture at large?
It’s funny, I guess I’m jaded by working in a cannabis kitchen. When I tell someone outside the industry that I make marijuana edibles all day, they get so wide-eyed and curious. People seriously think that we are eating edibles all day long. One, that’s illegal. Two, that’s a terrible idea when you are running a business. And three, it’s dangerous. We have heavy equipment. I hire chefs in my kitchen with strong work ethics and they are meticulous at everything they do. We are normal people who like to partake after work, that’s all.

What do you think about 4/20 in general? Is it a high holiday or played out? How do you celebrate?
4/20 is a paid holiday in my kitchen, if that tells you anything. We are very busy the few weeks prior to the holiday so it’s nice to take that day to just relax — before the next big rush.

For more information about Love's Oven, visit their website here.

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