Is this book gimmicky? Absolutely ("Let's head for the kitchen to get baking and get baked! Just remember to turn off the oven when you've finished," ends the Introduction). And the recipes are hardly revolutionary for those who reference Alice B. Toklas on a regular basis. They've been designed with simplicity and speed in mind, promising to take so little time you'll hardly have to wait an hour for that medically enhanced sugar high.
But if you've ever tasted a dense, dry chocolate chip marijuana cookie from one of those medical marijuana shops
like we recently did (do let us know how they are), you know full well that the concept of culinary greatness, or even basic tastiness, is hardly the point of hash-baked goods. There is a reason sage, rosemary and thyme have become the backbone of so many great dishes, while marijuana is notably absent. Aside from that small legality issue, it doesn't exactly do wonders on the flavor wheel for that roast chicken or brioche bread pudding.
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The premise of Baked! is to add pot in the form of a make-ahead butter, oil or in its finely ground herbal state to various recipes. Not rocket science, as that cannabis butter — known on the street at "cannabutter" — is typically the hash-vessel in so many of the baked goods at those medical marijuana dispensaries (or so we've heard). And so the recipes in the book, even the savory ones, are pretty basic in that "just add butter" (or oil, or ground hash) to your favorite banana bread recipe kind of way. Savory recipes are here too, including pigs in a blanket and an your basic high octane meatloaf. Cue jokes about happy cows.
And so why not just use your own banana bread and meatloaf recipe? Because if you look closely at that handy "how high" sidebar that is thoughtfully included so you don't get smashed, even just a few tablespoons of cannabis butter in your grandmother's banana bread is plenty. You'll still need to use regular butter. Like most pot cookbooks, the point is to get high but not too high, medicinal or otherwise, so following the recipes rather than making up your own is advised, even if they are hardly review-worthy blueberry muffins. Because who cares if it's Baker's or Valhrona chocolate in those brownies and chocolate cupcakes?
Well, we do. Which gets us to the possibility that a pot cookbook on a whole new level could be just one yes-box away on Tuesday (just saying). You know, one written by cookbook authors who aren't simply pot fanatics, but actually enjoy cooking and baking (and the fascinating culinary kitchen experiments that go with it), cannabis-tinged or not. The sort of professional folks who in blind test kitchen tastings might shed some light on cannabis flavor profiles and not just how quickly to get high (America's Test Kitchen, we're talking about you). Now that would be an interesting book.