HomeTrendsEdibles Hit a New High in the Baking Industry

Edibles Hit a New High in the Baking Industry

(This article appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)      

CBD, or Cannabidiol, has seen a spike in sales across multiple product categories in recent years, from lotions and oils to treats for both animals and humans. Touted for its ability to relieve pain, anxiety and stress, CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in cannabis. Sales of CBD products are expected to be in the billions in the next few years, so it should be no surprise that high-end edibles are a new trend on the market.

Potisserie Macarons
Potisserie Macarons

Gone are the days of the questionable pot brownie consumed at college parties. Some notable pastry chefs are getting into the game and turning CBD gourmet, such as critically acclaimed pastry chef Martin Howard. He recently launched Chocolatina’s Le Potisserie in Colorado, where he’s currently developing macarons, chocolate truffles, sandwich cookies and madeleines, all infused with CBD. He aims to use the best quality ingredients, just as he has throughout his career before getting into the new market. “I’m a stickler for taste, so that really hasn’t changed,” he notes. His choice in product is unique to the CBD market, but follows the current tastes and popular trends in the pastry world. Some flavor combinations he has in development are chocolate mint sandwich cookies, strawberry basil and lemon apricot truffles, and pumpkin spice macarons.  Known for their enormous and highly Instagram-able chocolate chip cookies, New York’s Fat Cat Kitchen started offering CBD products in late 2018. In just that short time, CBD products became their best-selling items, says owner C.J Holm, selling even more than coffee each day. They offer an ever-expanding menu of CBD products such as gluten-free marshmallow rice crispy treats, brownie bites, and honey shots for lattes. In fact, the shots became so popular that Fat Cat just launched their own jarred honey for retail sale as well, using a local resource that Holm met at the neighboring farmers’ market in Union Square. And of course, those chocolate chip cookies are also available with CBD. While developing the cookie recipe, she perfected the dough first before selecting the chocolate. She tested multiple shapes and brands before settling on Guittard wafers, which she chose for not only flavor and the way they melt in the cookies, but the fact that they are an American brand.

Fat Cat Kitchen Cookies
Fat Cat Kitchen Cookies

Both Howard and Holm use the powdered isolate version of CBD, because they find they don’t have to alter their existing recipes to compensate for the additional ingredient. Oil versions of CBD not only change the consistency of the product and therefore require additional recipe tinkering, but they also tend to change the flavor. Howard says that products using the oil had a distinct hemp flavor, which he was looking to avoid. Perfecting recipes with the powered form is still important, however, to ensure quality and consistency in the amount of CBD in each product. Both chefs spent a considerable amount of time researching the market place to make sure they were offering products with the correct dosages for the average CBD consumer. Most of their products range from five to twenty-five grams per serving.

Though different forms of CBD are legal in all fifty states, the laws about what kind can be used, how much is allowed per dose and which products can be offered vary considerably. Many of the laws aren’t clear, which can lead to confusion when dealing with government agencies. Fat Cat Kitchen faced an embargo of their CBD treats this past February during a routine inspection by the Department of Health, putting a halt on their production until legal counsel and local media got involved. There seems to be no end in sight for the legal battles in many states, though Holm is looking forward to the possible legalization of recreational marijuana in New York sometime in 2019. Not only would that clear up her current issues with CBD, but open the kitchen door to a whole new world of products using THC.

THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive part of cannabis, is currently legal in ten states and Washington D.C. for recreational use. Chef Howard said that is the logical next step for his customers in Colorado, though the licensing process takes time. Meanwhile, other brands have already shown considerable success in the THC market. KIVA Confections, based in California, is an award-winning brand that offers chocolate bars, chocolate covered blueberries and espresso beans, as well as mints and gummies. Co-founder Kristi Knoblich notes that there are challenges when recipe testing with the “strong, bitter, often skunky” flavors of cannabis, so they need to think outside of the box and be creative with their flavor blends. They proudly source their chocolate from a 100 year old local supplier and purposely selected the chocolate for “not only for its quality, but for its unique flavor profile that marries well with the cannabis and positively enhances the flavors.” California potency guidelines are quite strict, so KIVA has developed a step-by-step process to ensure consistency in their products to ensure they pass quality testing. As for taste testing, one might wonder how that works given the aftereffects of consumption. Knoblich says they use a spittoon and swish out their mouths with warm water in between samples, because otherwise “the meetings would always be followed by a long nap in the middle of the afternoon.”

Potisserie Mint Sandwich
Potisserie Mint Sandwich

The best advice for anyone looking to explore the edibles market? Research! Not only should chefs be diligent in their research about laws as well as the source and quality of their CBD or THC, but also how much each product contains and how to communicate to their customers. “I want to be informed, I want my customers to be informed, and I want my staff to be informed, so they can answer any questions they might have,” adds Holm. The market is hot, and those venturing out into the high-end sector are finding success. There is an expectation that if customers are eating something sweet, it should taste good. As Knoblich states, “People value taste, plain and simple.”

AnnMarie Mattila
AnnMarie Mattila is a writer for Pastry Arts Magazine, as well as a freelance baker and pastry chef in New York. She is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Food Studies at New York University.