Margarine v. Butter v. Coconut

Huzzah, it’s an R&D Bake Day!  There’s absolutely nothing better than a home scented by baking when it’s cold and grey outside. I spent the day making a green-tea lemon sugar cookie (to be baked on Tuesday), as well as a caramel blondie with dried cranberry.

I’m on the hunt for a better blondie, so great sacrifices are required from my friends as I ply them with test recipes. We experimented with Alton Brown’s blondie base yesterday, and while it was tasty AF, not quite the consistency and boldness of flavor I’m seeking. That said, these sweet suckers are nowhere to be seen in the house today, as they have not-so-mysteriously disappeared into various human mouths. I didn’t even get a chance to take pictures of the finished product, they were gone so quickly.

Ah, well. Tel est le sort de patisseries.

Tomorrow I’m going to play with my own recipe and see if I can buff it up with a little orange zest and fresh cranberry. Luckily, these little guys are champs when it comes to making vegan versions; since they don’t have to be fluffy it’s a straight conversion from egg to flax seed. I’d usually use butter or margarine for something I want to have that super-caramel flavor pop, but I really don’t like making canna-butter using margarine, and since this needs to be vegan, we’re going with coconut.

There’s a lot of debate about what makes a better oil. Many people swear by butter as the one true source of all that is right and holy in the making of canna-infused oils.

Why Not Butter?

Butter’s good. Margarine is less good.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike canna-butter. But when you’re talking about a one-to-one recipe conversion, meaning you can take any old recipe and switch out the butter for canna-butter, it’s not perfect. When you infuse butter you’ll notice there’s a heck of a lot of water and whey at the bottom of your crock pot when all is said and done. It’s what remains when you pull the pure fat away from the liquid that is normally homogenous when you start with a plain old lump of butter. Butter is full of minerals and flavor that comes from those liquids, and when you remove them it not only affects the taste, it leaves you with a more brittle solid fat. This, in turn affects the texture and taste of your baked goods.

Double the loss-of-liquid and loss-of-taste effect, and now we’re in the realm of margarine. Not to mention, the brittle fat you’re left with at the end of a margarine-based infusion is made of god knows what and is a pretty crap excuse for butter, in terms of taste.

Now, when you’re making a pan of brownies, this doesn’t really matter so much. Brownies are a favorite because they can carry a high load of oils and they’re pretty forgiving. But you’d never get away with making a sugar cookie, for instance. You’d need to supplement your dough with something more flexible than this.

The Virtues of Coconut

In my book, coconut is king.

First and foremost, if you know what a recipe will do with coconut oil, you know what a recipe will do with infused coconut oil. This is not the case for other oils that will separate into liquid and fat – like butter and margarine. Infused butter acts differently than regular butter, because butter is 16-17% water. When infused, the water separates from the butter, never to be reunited. That means you can test recipes with regular coconut before you use your precious infusion, and you know it will turn out the same when the time comes.

If you’ve ever worked with coconut oil, you know it gets a little brittle when it’s cold, but when it counts — when you’re working with cookie dough for instance, the coconut oil holds. There’s no extra liquid in coconut oil, so there’s no gross crap at the bottom of the container when you’re done infusing, and all the THC and CBD goes right where it’s supposed to: into the oil, with no waste to deal with afterward. It also perfectly retains its taste profile*, which is necessary when you’re converting.

The big bonus for me is that it’s easy vegan; when I’m baking someone for whom it’s medically necessary (egg, dairy allergies), or for health reasons, it’s easy to make delicious food.  I want all people with restricted diets and unrestricted diets, alike, to enjoy my goods with abandon. But it’s helpful to know, for those people who suffer from medically necessary restrictions, what’s in my oil — and what’s in it is, simply, oil. There’s no soy, emulsifiers, or random extra chemicals — i.e. no potential allergens I need to worry about hiding within. Simple, just the way I like it.

*It obviously also tastes of marijuana in its infused state; this is unavoidable.

There are some folks out there who dislike the flavor of coconut. I’m terribly sorry for these lost souls. They most likely will not enjoy my coconut-infused delights.

What are your favorite oils to work with? Have you tried the straight kief to oil method?

Until next time, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to mind your Ps.

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