canna oil, cannabis, dessert, edibles, recipe, vegan

Primetime Snack: Cannabis-Infused (or Not!) Vegan Popcorn Balls

Sometimes you develop a recipe idea from old ingredients you forgot were in the pantry. Last year, towards the end of winter, I found bags of Dandies Pumpkin Vegan Marshmallows in the clearance bin. Never one to turn down a sale, I bought several, gave a couple away, and promptly forgot about it until I found the squashed, somewhat hardened package in my cupboard and knew I had to do something with it. At least, that’s my excuse for pulling from a very on-the-nose fall flavor: Pumpkin Spice. (No latte involved, though – but you can find another latte-like recipe in my previous post.) I’m not here to hate on being “basic.” Pumpkin pie has always been one of my all-time favorite desserts, and, frankly, I’m glad pumpkin’s finally getting some deserved seasons-long recognition.

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There are lots of reasons I’m charmed by fall. Halloween, the celebration of squash in general, Thanksgiving food. However I wouldn’t say I… love fall.Β  I would not say I’m an autumn lady. In Seattle, it’s pretty dreary weather. No, not miserable, but it’s enough to justify being unmotivated a lot more frequently. It gets dark quicker. Even a slight commute makes the days seem so short. And to be honest, I don’t get excited about the “fall clothes” in my closet – sweaters, hats, boots. There’s plenty of opportunity to wear all that in this climate any time of year; there’s not that much to get excited about.

There is one thing that really gets me excited about fall, and that’s television. Even though every kid relishes summer and dreads the school year, summers could be very long and lonely for me. I was an only-child, latchkey kid without many extracurricular activities until I started doing theater and Running Start as a teenager. My summers were all about television, and I would wait all those months for my favorite shows like Friends and Gilmore Girls and Scrubs to come back with new episodes after watching endless reruns and soap operas.

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These days, there is a lot I’m really digging content-wise. Sure, there aren’t true “seasons” for television anymore. Streaming has almost made primetime television obsolete. Netflix dropped Season 2 of Mindhunter after a two-year wait this summer, and I’m already done. BoJack Horseman Season 6 is bound to drop later this year, and I’ll eat up every last minute of it in one weekend flat. (Also, WTF is happening with You?!? Haven’t they been in production since Season 1 even launched on Netflix last December?! That cliffhanger was brutal!) Even with streaming, though, the major networks still have some of the week-by-week watching leverage with hits like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (returning Sept. 25th!) and The Good Place (returning Sept. 26th!), just to name a couple.

Maybe fall weather isn’t my favorite, but the dark dampness it brings is an excellent excuse to stay in and watch TV. Maybe you even curl up and light a bowl. Maybe you let yourself get a little high, a little sleepy, and fall asleep giggling to yourself as you drift off under the blue glow of your laptop screen.

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This week I wanted to give you the perfect binge-watching pre-snack. I call it a pre-snack because although you may be tempted to eat more than one, I highly advise against it. You might not want to light up before this one, either, because if you follow my recipe, it will get you lit all by itself.

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I’ve taken the ultimate movie-watching appetizer and its fall-favorite sister, the popcorn ball, and infused it with the spice of the season and some dank, DIY cannabis oil: Pumpkin Spice Popcorn Ball edibles! You can certainly make this with plain vanilla marshmallows, omit the spice, use uninfused coconut oil, and have a regular ol’ popcorn ball. You can make it even dressier by coating balls in sprinkles or drizzling them with melted chocolate. This is truly your snack, I’m just giving you a very basic canvas.

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Let’s talk for a minute about edible dosages. When you make your own cannabis oil, as I have, it’s not really possible to tell how potent it is until you try it, or unless you have access to a very expensive testing lab. Consuming cannabis, as opposed to combusting it (i.e. smoking it), is also very different for each individual. Not only does each person react differently to THC and all its other various psychoactive compounds (including CBD, which is in fact psychoactive by definition if not for the reasons THC gets you “high”), but everyone has a different metabolism, so the length of time an edible takes to affect you will vary.

That being said, you can give yourself a pretty close approximation if you know how the oil is made. For example, I make cannabis oil with a jar of coconut oil (about 16 oz.) andΒ  a gram of flower trimmings and/or lower-shelf weed (also called “shake”), per tablespoon (about 32 g total, or about 1 1/8 oz.). You can check out articles like this and this to see how you can roughly approximate THC potency.

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By those calculations, my finished jar will have somewhere around 3200 mg of THC in two cups. This recipe, should you follow it as written, contains 5 T of cannabis oil, or about 500 mg of THC. I made 7 servings, so it will have about 71 mg of THC per serving. For reference, in most states where cannabis is legal, the maximum THC content per serving of edibles (one gummy, one chocolate square, 8 oz. of liquid, etc.) is 10 mg. For someone with my tolerance, I would normally have 2-3 servings and feel pretty good – too good to operate a vehicle, but not so inebriated that I couldn’t interact socially. While 7 servings of THC seems like a lot, I tried this recipe after I made it and felt – well, high as a kite. (I also used the Releaf app to track how I was feeling during my session – but that review is upcoming!) That being said, it didn’t feel it as strongly as if I’d had 7 servings of lab-grade, manufactured cannabis edibles, so that’s where that go-low-and-slow approach will really help you find your sweet spot. These balls are big and crunchy, so start with half and see how you feel in an hour.

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CANNABIS-INFUSED PUMPKIN SPICE POPCORN BALLS

Yields 7 balls, or about 14-28 servings for cannabis-infused version

5 T cannabis-infused coconut oil, divided (use regular coconut oil or a mixture of both for no or low-potency)

1 10-oz. pckg. vegan mini marshmallows (I used Dandies Pumpkin Vegan Marshmallows, but you can use any vegan marshmallows, including the Trader Joe’s brand which are a seasonal item)

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp pumpkin spice (optional, or use up to 1 tsp if using regular marshmallows)

5 c popcorn, popped (1/4 c popcorn kernels, unpopped)

  1. Pop your popcorn. You can use any vegan packaged brand, but it’s super easy to make popcorn on your stovetop. Simply heat up 1 T of oil in a pot with a lid over medium-heat, and once heated up, add your popcorn kernels. Cover with the lid and “shake” the pot, essentially using both hands to move the pot around the heat source consistently for 3-5 minutes until there are barely 5-6 seconds in between “pops” (it will start out slow, pop constantly, and then slow down again). To make things even easier, you can use a silicone microwave popper like this one, which we have. Add your 1 T oil, your kernels, cover, and set the microwave for about 3 1/2 minutes until you hear the 5 sec. interval in between pops.
  2. Cover a baking sheet in silicone, wax paper, or parchment paper.
  3. Once your popcorn is all popped, heat up the other 4 T (1/4 c) of cannabis-infused coconut oil in a pot (the same one even, if you stove-popped).
  4. Immediately add the bag of marshmallows and stir until the marshmallows are melted. It will “melt” into one big glob, but don’t worry, it will be malleable enough to stir in your popcorn. There will be no discernible pillows of mallow left. Be careful not to overheat, though, or else the sugar in the marshmallows will get to a somewhat “hardball” stage, which in candy making, is hard like peanut brittle or even harder like a Jolly Rancher.Β  Your balls will still be edible, but they will be very, very crunchy. In candy making you’d use a special thermometer, but you can eyeball it with this one.
  5. Once your marshmallows are melted, add the popcorn, pumpkin spice, and vanilla. Stir into your marshmallow mess until all the popcorn is coated and you have one giant popcorn ball.
  6. Turn the ball out onto the covered baking sheet. Let cool to the touch, but still warm enough to manipulate.
  7. Once the mass has cooled down enough, start breaking pieces off and press into balls. Voila! Let cool completely and store in a Ziploc bag or covered container.

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