Level: Apprentice
Reading Time: 15 minutes
I have a friend whose Mom needs medical MJ for an illness and she loves my chocolate.  They have a license to grow their own so they gave me some buds to use in making some chocolate for her.  I figure I need about 12 grams of it per kg of chocolate.  I thought I would add extra cocoa butter, maybe 10%, to make it flow better.  I suspect I should wait until the rest of the batch is running smoothly before I add the MJ, which I will grind as fine as I can in one of those blade coffee grinders before I put it in.  You probably don’t have any experience with this, but have you heard of anyone who has, and do you have any tips or cautions for incorporating it into chocolate?  Thanks. (Obviously not an ATA question)

I think this is a great Ask the Alchemist question.  Regardless of use laws it isn’t illegal to talk about something and so that is what I am going to do.  It also allowed me to dive pretty deep into chemistry and a subject that I don’t know much about.  I adore geeking out on chemistry.

I’m going to put the caveat out there that I don’t have any direct experience with this.  And I’m not putting the disclaimer out there with any subtext of approval or disapproval.  I simply don’t want you to think I’ve tested and verified this method.  I have not.  It is from a combination of a conversation with someone who has made more than his fair share of cannabis chocolates, my chemistry backgroundand about 3 hours of internet research delving deep into supercritical CO2 extraction, subcritical CO2 extraction, alcohol extractions, cannubutters, chlorophyll extractions and cleanup steps and finally settling on what I think will give you the best chance of success in your home kitchen if you are starting with cannabis buds.

 The first solid consensus is that you should absolutely not just grind in the powdered buds directly into your chocolate.  It is a great way to ruin the flavor and just make a terrible chocolate. 

Chlorophyll and other compounds in the whole bud are powerfully flavored and from all indications, not in a good way.  That is the primary reason you don’t want to add the entire bud.

I initially looked into making an oil extract with cocoa butter but initial indications seemed to show it contained a lot of chlorophyll and was nearly as bad as adding the entire bud.

I moved on to an ethanol extraction since I knew I could get rid of that in the chocolate if needed.  It too showed a lot of chlorophyll so I pursued avenues on cleaning it up.

Bentonite clay and/or activated carbon looks like it would work very well stripping out all the green color and leaving a nice dark amber.  Unfortunately it required filtering under vacuum and that just isn’t too feasible to most people at home.  Gravity just didn’t seem to do the trick, at least in a feasible time.  It could be that an overnight gravity filtering might do it.  Maybe I will test that in the future.

If you decide you want to try it I would suggest 195 proof everclear.  Shake it up well with your ground up (seed removed) bud and let it settle.  Filter or decant off.  Then add 1 T of the Bentionite clay and/or the same amount of activated carbon.  I would lean toward the carbon for ease of filtering.  I’ve experimented with clay in the past and it is a bear to filter.  Again, shake it well, let it settle and filter as well as you can through a coffee filter.  Then you need to get it into an oil.  Cocoa butter has a tendency not to want to separate well with water so I would use traditional dairy butter.  Mix your ethanol extraction with about 10 parts water, add your melted butter and shake well.  Let it separate and refrigerate.  The THC laden butter will rise to the top and solidify and you can add it to your chocolate.

I’m not giving any real measurements as again I have not tried it but it should work in theory.  If you decide to tryI would love to hear how it goes.

During my conversation with the 420 chocolate maker he mentioned that what he used was CO2 extracted oil.  He didn’t bother with the direct herb.  I couldn’t work out what CO2 extracted meant and he went on to explain it was a supercritical fluid CO2 extraction.

And down the supercritical fluid CO2 extraction rabbit hole I went.  Supercritical fluids are amazing.  Like completely awesome.  Most people know the three common phases of matter.  Solids, liquids and gasses.  There are two more (at least).  Plasmas (think the sun) and supercritical fluids (like much of the atmosphere of Jupiter - it is a sea of supercriticalhydrogen and helium).

Did I mention they are awesome?  Let's talk about why.

If you take a gas (let’s say carbon dioxide for instance) and compress it you can get it to turn into a liquid.  If you further cool it it will turn into a solid.  That is dry ice.  If you take dry ice and put it at room temperature it will turn right into a gas through a process called sublimation.  If on the other hand you keep it in a strong sealed container and heat it up you can make it turn into liquid. 

To put some numbers to it, at room temperatures and atmospheric pressure, carbon dioxide is a gas. At 60.4 psi it’s a liquid and at -78 C at standard pressure, it’s a solid.

Now, if you take your CO2 and put it into a VERY strong container and heat it to above 31.1 C (its critical temperature) and pressurize it to 1,071 psi (its critical pressure, which is about 70 atmospheres of pressure) or higher, something very interesting starts to happen.  It really wants to be gas due to the temperature, but also wants to be a liquid due to the pressure.  What ends up happening is that it turns into a new state called a supercritical fluid that has the properties of both a gas and liquid.   Totally awesome!

For those of you that like charts and graphs, this is what we I am talking about.

phase diagram 2.jpg

 

You can kind of think of them as this fluffy liquid or thick gas; sort of a flowing high energy foam.  Because of that supercritical fluids (SCF) can pass through porous solids like a gas and also dissolve materials like a liquid, making them an amazing solvent. And this is where we come back to the subject at hand.  The SCF can get inside the porous bud and dissolve the THC.  The best part is that the density of the supercritical CO2 can be tuned so that the extraction targets maximum cannabidiol depending on the type and quality of cannabis material being used; while keeping chlorophyll out of the product.  This is the SCF extract flowing out.  See what I mean by foam?

SCF.jpg

 

But alas, you can't readily do this at home or even most laboratories.  But I had to share since I find it so interesting.

Back to the topic at hand, what can you do at home?  Well, as these things are wont to do, it comes full circle and what I am going to suggest is a modified cannubutter as it is known.

I want to give credit where credit is due.  This comes basically from Jeff the 420 Chef

He is given credit for this technique that minimizes the flavor in cannubutter.  It is akin to what they do when they decaffeinate coffee. The raw green coffee is soaked in cold water to extract the caffeine but it leaves behind the majority of the flavor compound.  You basically do the same thing here.

Cleaning

1.       Grind (not to fine) or break up dry herb and soak 12-48 hours in cold water.

2.       Drain and rinse cannabis in the fine mesh strainer with more water.

3.      Bring a pot of water to a boil and boil the cannabis 5 minutes.

4.      Prepare a bowl of ice water that you can submerge your mesh strainer into.

5.      At 5 minutes strain the hot cannabis through the fine mesh strainer and place in ice water for 1 minute to quench the extraction.

6.      Remove from ice water, squeeze out excess water and break apart into small pieces onto a Pyrex dish.

7.      Preheat your oven to 300 F

8.      Spread the blanched cannabis in dish evenly

9.      Cover with foil 

10.  Bake for 20 minutes to dry

Extraction

1.       Fill a large pot with water and bring to a slow boil

2.       Add Cocoa butter a french press, cover and place in pot of boiling water to melt.

3.       When Cannabis is fully dry mix it into the melted cocoa butter.

4.       Cover french press with plunger and place in the pot of boiling water for 3 hrs. The water level should be at the level of the butter.

5.       Stir the Cannabutter every 30 mins.

6.       Check the water level in the pot every 20-30 mins and refill slowly as necessary. You want the water to stay level with the mixture in the french press.

7.       After 3 hours, press plunger down to strain the butter and pour into glass container and refrigerate to set up.

That is it.  You can now use this infused cocoa butter in your chocolate with minimal negative flavor impact. I'm going to have to leave it to you to work out how much you need to use as THC levels are so varied.  The rule of thumb I've heard is you want 5-10 mg per serving.

This suddenly makes we wonder about supercritical CO2 cocoa extraction shots…..can you imagine foamed chocolate shots that evaporate in your mouth.....

8 Comments