“Welcome to Psychedelicatessen, a weekly column exploring the world of cannabis cuisine, including recipes from the great chefs and ganjapreneurs who fuel our appetite for adventure.”
Recently, I met an enterprising edibles maker who had never smoked pot in her life until an almost-fatal brush with bacterial meningitis changed everything. This time last year, Alison Ettel was enjoying a ski vacation in Whistler, B.C., before moving on to Vancouver, where she felt so ill a stranger on the street helped her get to the emergency room. Once hospitalized, Ettel lapsed into a coma for a week, and upon awakening, she didn’t recognize her friends or family, had no memory and was unable to walk, talk or eat. “They thought I was going to die,” Alison says. “And after waking up, I was only able to be awake for maybe a half-hour or 45 minutes a day.”
Depressed, with no appetite and her brain in a fog, Alison accepted marijuana from friends who had driven up from Seattle to see her. “It helped immensely,” Ettel says. “I got my appetite back, and my memory function improved.” While her recovery ultimately took three months to regain her abilities to walk, talk and care for herself, Alison didn’t forget the cannabis and was determined to learn more. A very bright and driven woman with several degrees from University of Michigan who previously worked on Wall Street, at the Brookings Institute and the software industry, Ettel turned her considerable talents to researching cannabis medicine and developing her own extracts, edibles and tinctures. “I had always been a cook,” Alison shares, “and I was looking for excellent quality in my edibles and extracts, so I decided to start Sweet Leaf last January.”
With her new edibles company expanding quickly, Alison gained distribution at Harborside, Craft and Grass Roots in the San Francisco Bay Area, and added CBD dog treats to her product line, along with healthy snacks for humans, like Blueberry Almond Granola and Sriracha Kale Chips. “I have experience making specialty items like wedding cakes and elaborately decorated cookies, and I love the festive atmosphere of the holiday season, so of course I’m going to make Christmas cookies!” Alison exclaims. “My father’s family was from Germany,” Alison explains, “so we’d make gingerbread every year, it’s a nice family tradition.”
Try Alison’s Ganja Gingerbread Men this holiday season, and give thanks for your health, wealth, family and friends!
Cannabis Gingerbread Men Cookies
Yields 43 cookies with medium sized cookie cutter, decorate with Royal Icing
2/3 cup molasses
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 TBL + 1 tsp ground ginger
1 ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground allspice
3/4 tsp ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter
½ cup cannabutter
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp table salt
Step 1: Stir together molasses, brown sugar, and spices in a 4- to 5-quart heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, and remove from heat. (Helpful tip: spray measuring cup with liquid cooking spray for easier pouring/cleanup.)
Step 2: Stir in baking soda (mixture will foam up).
Step 3: Stir in regular butter 3 pieces at a time, letting each addition melt before adding next, until all butter is melted. If using cannabis butter, substitute some of the butter with cannabis butter (make sure the cannabis butter is made with unsalted butter) until both butters equal 1 cup total. The amount of cannabis butter used will obviously vary depending on the strength of the butter and how strong you want to make the cookies. (Alison’s cookies are dosed at 20 milligrams of THC.) Add the cannabis butter last. If using straight concentrate instead of cannabis butter, add the concentrate after the butter and thoroughly stir to incorporate evenly.
Step 4: Add egg and stir until combined.
Step 5: Stir in 3 3/4 cups flour and salt
Step 6: Preheat oven to 325°F.
Step 7: Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting with as much of remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed to prevent sticking, until soft and easy to handle, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Step 8: Roll out remaining dough to 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut out as many cookies as possible with cookie cutter and carefully transfer with offset spatula to 2 silpat-lined baking sheets, arranging them about 1 inch apart. They do spread so be careful not to put too close together! I’ve found if you have trouble transferring them, popping them into the freezer for a few min helps.
Step 9: Bake cookies in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are slightly darker, 10 to 12 minutes total (watch carefully toward end of baking; cookies can burn easily). Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies with remaining dough and scraps.
Step 10: Frost w/ royal icing after cookies have cooled.
Royal Icing Recipe (each batch makes 1.5 cups & should frost 1-2 batches)
1 ½ TBL meringue powder
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 ½ TBL warm water
Combine all ingredients in an electric mixer and beat until icing forms high peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy duty mixer or 10-12 min at medium speed with a hand-held mixer.)
Scoop icing into a piping bag and give your Gingerbread Men happy faces and details on their sleeves and legs.
Tips: Keep all utensils completely free of grease for proper icing consistency; when using a large countertop mixer or for stiffer icing, use 1 tbsp. less water.
Have fun decorating!