Photos courtesy of Danielle Guercio
Chocolate desserts are a worldwide phenomenon as much as they are a cannabis cooking juggernaut. Growing from a luxurious ingredient originating in Central and South America, Europeans adopted chocolate, like many other prized plants from around the world, into their own cuisines. It started as a sacred cacao drink in Mayan and Aztec civilizations and evolved into a sugary delicacy enjoyed by people all over the world.
Chocolate can be found in practically every shop, every airport, and is even carted to Antarctica in boatloads to satiate our passion for it. Whether you’re infusing a few ounces to drizzle on a baked item, or making chocolate-y bon bons, chocolate and cannabis go together better than most flavors.
Today's luscious Baked to Perfection confection is a hybrid between a fudge and an icebox cake. And the best part about it is its flour-free simplicity: You don’t have to put it in the oven. All you have to do is stick it in the fridge for this dessert to take shape, which is ideal. Chocolate, like cannabis, is a delicate ingredient that requires respect and care, and the refrigerator is distinctly lower risk for both beloved ingredients.
We peeped this brick of beauty on Gnambox, a popular foodie couple’s Instagram account. These food writers are based in Milan, Italy, and are always translating revered Italian food concepts into fresh, modern takes for everyone to enjoy.
Stefano Paleari and Riccardo Casiraghi, Gnambox’s founders, focus on seasonal and specialty creations like a bright zucchini pizette in the summer and root veg-forward dishes in the cooler months.
Their brick cake, Mattoncino al Cioccolato, invokes the classic bakery combo of pistachio and chocolate with crumbled amaretti, which are small, sharply almond flavored cookies that are crunchy or chewy. They’re harder to come by in the US, so we used milk and honey biscuits with a touch of almond extract to get close. With the added coconut and aromatic liqueur, this becomes one gourmet hunk of choc.
Check out this easy recipe, adapted to add our favorite herb. And stick around for a Q&A with Gnambox’s founders about their dessert faves, and if you’ll ever see them playing around with the other oregano.
Gnambox’s Chocolate Brick Cake
Original recipe created by Stefano Paleari + Riccardo Casiraghi, we tweaked to "Americanize" and added a little THC as TLC.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes, chill time 2 hours or overnight
Yield : 10 25-milligram servings
- 14 oz dark chocolate
- About 20 lattemiele cookies or other mildly sweet biscuit
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup raw unsalted pistachios
- ¼ cup dehydrated coconut
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ oz marsala or aromatic spirit
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- 1 tbsp cannabis infused butter*
- Cocoa powder for garnish
Roughly chop 14oz of dark chocolate, you don’t have to worry about chunks as long as it's broken up pretty well.
Set up a saucepan filled halfway with water over a smaller burner to prepare your chocolate melting station. When the water is simmering (you don’t want a boil) add the chocolate to a metal mixing bowl and pop over the pot. Using a spatula, gently stir the chocolate periodically until it’s melted completely, do not whip.
When the choc is all gooey, remove from the heat and set on a kitchen towel to dry off the moisture on the bottom, you don’t want that dripping into your chocolate!
In a big bowl, beat two egg yolks with the brown sugar vigorously, add ¼ tsp almond extract and 1 oz of marsala wine or other aromatic spirits, we used Artet Cannabis Aperitif for a little kick, but 1 oz doesn’t have as much THC as you’d need for a whole cake — that's where the little nub of infused butter comes into play.
Stir the chocolate into the egg mixture until it's homogenized, then fold in the pistachios and coconut and break up the biscuits into the chocolate before giving everything one final mix.
Line a loaf pan with parchment. Gnambox had the most excellent tip of wetting the parchment, crumpling it, then stuffing into the pan — this allows the paper to get into each corner without ripping.
Drop the chocolate mix into the mold and press down repeatedly to pop out any trapped air and get a nice compressed shape.
Chill for at least two hours, preferably overnight. Before you serve, allow it to come to room temp for at least an hour to make it sliceable. Dust with cocoa, portion up with a sharp knife, and enjoy!
Cannabis Infused Butter
Decarboxylate 1 gram of cannabis concentrate at 225°F for 20 minutes. As the decarb period is ending, melt half a stick of butter. When the butter is fully melted and warm, drop in the concentrate and mix until fully dissolved. Place in a jar for future use; this method makes four tablespoons with 250mg each, enough for this recipe and a few others.
*This interview has been edited for clarity
MERRY JANE: What is the most misunderstood thing about Italian food and Italian cooks?
Gnambox: Probably the fact that we are considered mainly for our tradition. A huge part of this reasoning is the genuine, down-to-earth sense of “kitchen” that originated with our grandmas — thanks to them, we have basics that won’t ever change in a million years. But it gives us the power to innovate! There’s a cool side of Italian cuisine that is usually overlooked or forgotten outside Italy.
If cannabis was legal in Italy, would you cook with it?
We adore experiments! Lots of our recipes come from research and trips abroad. Influence is everywhere and unexpected. Spices for desserts, sweet notes to a chicken roast, or even cocoa powder for hummus. Cooking should be full of love, fun, and always chill.
Does cannabis have a place in the larger food and wine culture of Italy?
We still need to try recipes for ourselves. This is typically the only way we can deal with a new ingredient or food trend. If it doesn’t pass through our hands, it remains a mystery, but we can surely see cannabis having its place in our culture. As a matter of fact, Italy adopted tons of new trends coming from abroad: We already mentioned hummus!
What does the everyday Italian think about cannabis legalization as it goes back and forth?
Italy definitely remains in a gray area concerning legalization. The fact that the government still doesn’t know how to cope with the subject means that they’re lacking knowledge. Maybe they work like us, and are undecided till they try it personally!
What is your favorite dessert on Gnambox?
How could we choose one? Well, it wasn’t a long time ago, that we were making a new cheesecake and were a little unsure about using white chocolate, which is not always easy to mix and balance.
We knew something sour would have been perfect, but when we tasted passion fruit — like, OMG, we stared at each other thinking: “This is to die for!” That cheesecake made it to the grand finale and won the prize.
What drives you to share your passion for food with readers?
It was a natural part of our projects and professional development. Without feedback, our passion for food photography and recipes would just have been the lazy hobby of a couple, but since we put a third into our duo, it became complete. It’s almost like living in a huge family: We do have lots of readers and followers who suggest new things and special places to try, or just react genuinely to what we share. From that reaction, we know someone is listening, and we can do better every time.
Follow Gnambox at @gnambox
Follow Danielle Guercio on Instagram @Realdanhell