Well I’m so glad you asked.
Before I became a cannabis food science consultant, I was a chocolate maker of some renown. Part of what set me apart was my creative approach to flavors and pairings.
The gourmet potential of cannabis edibles is limited only by your imagination.
But for businesses weighing manufacturing and market considerations, the answer can be a little more complicated.
Which is one of the things a food scientist like me can help with.
Meanwhile, here’s how I indulged my own imagination, to demonstrate envelope-pushing gourmet cannabis gummies…and how it went wrong (because sometimes that’s just as interesting).
Magic peanut butter & jelly gummies
Who doesn’t love a good PB&J? Well let’s see how far we can take it…
My plan was to make two layers: a grape pate de fruit (like a firm jelly that keeps its shape) and a crunchy peanut butter gianduia.
Then enrobe each morsel (like a Snickers) in Patric 70% Signature Dark Chocolate.
I must caveat that this particular gummy confection would be difficult and expensive to bring to market. Perhaps impractical on the manufacturing side, for a small/medium edibles company—except maybe as a big promo run. Or if you already have a customer base willing to spring for gourmet edibles.
But practicality has never stopped me from flexing my creativity before…
My initial attempt at grape pate de fruit turned out basic and dull. So I decided to do the jelly layer with blackberries and red wine instead.
First I made a test batch using straight-up blackberry puree and pinot noir. The flavor was ok…but the texture was pretty unpleasant with the seeds and fruitbodies.
So I clarified the blackberry puree using a centrifuge with pectinase, to separate all the woody-tasting, tough seeds and clingy pulp.
Fruit naturally contains pectin, so the enzyme pectinase helps break it down for centrifuge separation to get every last good drop. Later I’ll pasteurize the clarified purée to deactivate the enzyme. Otherwise it could inhibit the gummy from gelling later.
Texture-wise, the next test batch turned out much better. But the flavor was still washed out, even when I balanced the sweet and acid characteristics.
To intensify the wine flavor, I made a pinot noir reduction. Then increased the amount of clarified puree. And finally added some natural blackberry extract for that extra bright oomph.
The result was fantastic.
Crunchy peanut butter layer
Gianduia is an Italian confection usually made with salty milk chocolate and hazelnut paste. Almost like a ganache or super-smooth fudge without any of the grainy texture.
For this layer, I substituted handmade crunchy peanut butter, to make it dense but soft; textured to match and complement the pate de fruit layer.
The flavor and mouthfeel of the test batch blew my mind. I would gobble up just that gianduia by the handful.
Choosing THC extract for magic PB&J gummies
Satisfied with the undosed test version, I made another batch of blackberry-pinot noir jelly—this time adding decarboxylated cannabis extract.
I chose a distillate of Grapefruit Durban, a sativa strain known for its “cerebral, energetic, and motivating high…felt throughout your entire body.”
More importantly for gummies, its citrusy terpenes bring a bouquet of fresh bright grapefruit…enough to make you thirsty. (Read more about choosing extracts for edibles)
How to make multi-layer cannabis gummies
Layered gummies and other confections are beautiful, and can have exquisite flavors separate but paired with each bite.
It starts with a stainless steel confectionery frame. This one is about ¼” thick and can be stacked up for layers.
Once the jelly is cooled to room-temperature (so the gianduia won’t melt and the layers don’t mix), the tempered peanut butter gianduia gets poured on top…to set together into one dual slab.
This is pretty much the same process for any layered gummies.
Then you take away the frame and cut the slab to bitesize using a guitar cutter.
Sometimes experiments go wrong in very interesting and educational ways. Other times it’s much more dumb.
The idea was to cut the two layers into cubes, and enrobe each morsel with dark chocolate.
But my chocolate-tempering machine decided to sit this one out.
Any chocolate has to temper—to a unique set of conditions depending on what else is in it (e.g., fat %, type of fat, viscosity)—in order to set right for appearance, texture, and mouthfeel. So neither my peanut butter gianduia nor the enrobage would work for this delicious dream.
In some ways though, the scientific method is the study of adaptation.
Disappointed but not discouraged, I folded the slab of blackberry-wine over on itself to make a double layer. Then cut it into cubes, which I rolled in organic cane sugar.
They have a great mouthfeel and flavor. Still layered but the same color, creating a sparkling and gem-like appearance when you bite in—but they don’t really compare to a multi-layer chocolate confection.
However, they are also double the dosage…
Anyway, stay tuned for revisions and photos of the real thing. Once I get this distemperate machine up and running again.