Photos courtesy of Ashlae Warner
Ashlae Warner is aware her blogging moniker "ladycakes" can be a little misleading. A nickname from her husband, the Denver-based food wizard runs the gamut of vegan recipes in her blog, Oh, Ladycakes, with very few cakes along the way. And in Warner's forthcoming venture, edibles company Alchemy Food Co., she doesn't exact plan to up the twee factor; she simply aims to bring high caliber whole food edibles to the market, infusing each product with unrefined canna-coconut oil but skipping processed sugars. What you get is a tasty treat without any of the weird junk that makes your body sad, just those delightful THC vibes.
MERRY JANE got with Warner to talk about how the cannabis industry caters to vegans, traveling, and being too stoned at a big box store with her then-boyfriend's mother. She also shares a welcome deviation from the classic stoner brownie — one that will actually make you feel smug about your healthy choices.
Almost Raw Brownies With Maple Ganache
1 1/2 cups (190g) raw cashew pieces
1 cup (90g) rolled oats
1/2 cup (34g) cacao powder
Heavy pinch of fine sea salt
12-14 (210g) medjool dates, pitted
2 tablespoons (24g) canna-coconut oil, melted (but not hot)
2-3 tablespoons (28-42g) unsweetened almond milk
Maple Ganache Ingredients
1/2 cup (34g) cacao powder
3 tablespoons (36g) unrefined coconut oil, melted (but not hot. Use canna-coconut oil for super potent brownies)
3-4 tablespoons (45-60g) Grade B maple syrup
Pinch of fine sea salt
Sea salt flakes
Lightly grease a 12-cavity mini cheesecake pan with coconut oil; set aside. In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the cashews and oats into a super fine meal (this should take about 1-2 minutes) then add the cacao powder and sea salt and pulse just until combined. Add the and pulse for 25-30 seconds, until evenly distributed. Add the canna-coconut oil and almond milk, and process until fully incorporated. Divide and press the mixture into the cavities of the prepared pan then transfer to the freezer to chill for 20-30 minutes.
While the brownies are chilling, whip up the ganache. Head over to Oh, Ladycakes to get the instructions for finishing the brownies.
Some Thoughts on Canna-Coconut Oil:
My go-to method for making canna-coconut oil is simple. Decarb 7 grams of coarsely chopped bud (or trim) in a 240F oven for 45 minutes. Once decarbed and cooled (it should be golden brown), melt 90 grams of coconut oil in a multi-cooker (the Instant Pot is great). Once melted, toss in the bud, swirl it around, then slow cook for 6 hours on the lowest setting. Strain through cheesecloth and BAM! you've got yourself some kickass canna-coconut oil. And if coconut oil isn't your thing, feel free to use another oil in its place (but coconut oil really is the best).
MERRY JANE: How do you feel the cannabis industry accommodates vegans? Where does Alchemy fill in the gaps? Ashlae Warner: In Colorado? It doesn't. I mean, sure, some of the gummies and hard candies and chocolate bars are vegan, but those aren't the kinds of things I want to be eating on a regular basis. As someone who primarily uses cannabis as medicine — and someone who wholeheartedly believes that food can be medicine, too — I wanted an edible that I could actually feel good about eating. That's where Alchemy Food Co. comes in. Our products are made with wholesome ingredients (like almonds, dates, and coconut oil) and are vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free. So whether you're trying to eat less sugar or adhere to a paleo diet (or just want something a little more nourishing that tastes fuckin' delicious), you're going to love Alchemy's edibles.
Tell me about your early experiences with cannabis and how those grew into your relationship today.
My first experiences with marijuana were in my early 20s. And they were awful (mostly because I was irresponsible). I'd get paranoid. The effects would be super delayed, thanks to edibles that wouldn't kick in for four hours. This once happened at Costco while I was shopping with the woman who is now my mother-in-law. And then there was that one time I ate an entire brownie (when I should have eaten a quarter of it) and was high for 24 hours straight. I don't know if you've ever been high for 24 hours straight, but it is not even remotely enjoyable and is not something I ever want to experience again.
Today, my relationship with marijuana is a lot less… recreational. Mainly, the herb gets used as medicine: for restlessness, waves of crippling anxiety, and endometriosis-related cramps that are so intense they make me puke my guts out. Cannabis is a seriously awesome and powerful thing, and I'm thankful that my relationship with it evolved into something that serves me so much better than it did before.
You often write about your travels. How do you acquire or travel with cannabis when going abroad? What kind of conventional cannabis opinions have you observed in different countries?
Believe it or not — as much as I've traveled — I've actually never gotten to experience marijuana in a foreign land. When we were in Amsterdam a few years back, I was sick as a dog so I didn't get to enjoy the local coffeeshop scene (though I did send my husband out on a hunt for a joint, in the pouring rain. He came back empty-handed).
And then, when we were in India a couple years ago, I had every intention of getting my hands on some bhang until, on the second day of our trip, my husband got bit by a mosquito that left him with a bad case of dengue fever, so... no marijuana fun times in India for me. But honestly? It's not that big of a deal. Now that I live in a place where marijuana is legal and the bud you can get is literally some of the best available, I don't get as hung up about not being able to acquire it abroad (and I wouldn't dare travel with it because, you know, that's illegal).
Alchemy hasn't opened just yet, but what are y'all predicting to be the best seller?
That's a tough one. The peanut butter oat bites have been a huge hit with testers (people love sweet and salty, man) but I'm going to go with my favorite: the almond cacao bites, because, chocolate. But also because they're rich and decadent, and you'd never know you're eating something that's comprised of only almonds, dates, cacao powder, and canna-coconut oil (oh, and a pinch of sea salt).
Tell us a little about the recipe you're sharing with us today. What is the best environment for consumption? At home with a close group of friends? At a huge potluck picnic party? Before a solo trip to the aquarium? We wanna know.
This is literally the recipe that started it all. In effort to rid my kitchen of the canna-coconut oil that had been sitting around for a good year, I whipped up a batch of these almost raw brownies with maple ganache and handed them out to friends. Starting a whole food edibles company wasn't even on my radar at the time, but their feedback was what gave me the courage to approach my husband with the wild idea that eventually morphed into Alchemy Food Co. At some point I'd love to create a line of products based on this recipe, but the need for refrigeration makes it a little tricky.
As for consumption, that totally depends on preference/which strain you use to make the canna-coconut oil. If you're going the social route (or if you're going to be in public), I'd go with a sativa-dominant hybrid. If you're trying to chill at home with your pals, use an indica-dominant hybrid. And if you want to use one of these things in place of a dose of Nyquil, I'd make 'em with your favorite indica.
For more on Ashlae Warner and her impending edibles company, visit her website here
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