Texas Pecan Sheet Cake Gets a Cannabis Kick

What does Oregon’s top cannabis chocolatier eat in her downtime? Fancy weed brownies, basically.

By Benjamin Tepler February 26, 2019 Published in the March 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

Image: Michael Novak

How did a cannabis-clueless mom become Oregon’s largest producer of chocolate edibles? Christine Smith, 45, cites her nana’s chocolate cake as an inspiration for the cooking half of the equation. (She recalls wolfing down the treat in her Wonder Woman Underoos at age 6, while dancing to George Strait with her big Texan family.) Credit her husband, Jasper, a longtime marijuana grower, for leading her to add weed to the mix.

In 2015, Smith launched Grön, infusing chocolate bars with environmentally sustainable marijuana extract and adorning them with everything from dried raspberries to crisped rice. “Not being a major cannabis consumer myself, I was looking for something that could take the edge off—not induce a Cheetos- and movie-watching bender,” she explains. By 2017, Grön (Swedish for “green”) was the state’s largest maker of cannabis chocolate. The company also sells CBD products in New Seasons and at the Jupiter Hotel, and boasts North America’s first fully licensed CBD café, a gold-accented shoebox in Portland’s Central Eastside.

At home, Smith still makes her nana’s sheet cake recipe: a simple, Southern brownie melted through with super-sweet frosting, updated with good cocoa powder, fresh coffee, and fancy flake salt. And, yes, occasionally she adds Grön to the batter for a mildly euphoric buzz. It’s nothing like the dank, trip-inducing dorm room pot brownies of yore. Now, if only you could keep from eating it all in one sitting.

Salted Pecan Texas Sheet Cake

Serves 12

For the cake:

  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder (Smith recommends Holy Kakow or Scharffen Berger)
  • 1 cup fresh-brewed coffee
  • 1 50 mg Grön dark chocolate bar, broken into pieces (optional)

For the icing:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp buttermilk
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 lb (4 cups) powdered sugar
  • 1 cup pecans, lightly toasted
  • Flake sea salt (Smith recommends Jacobsen’s)

MIX THE BATTER Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter and flour a 10-by-15-inch jelly roll pan. In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and baking soda. Whisk until smooth and set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, whisk together butter, cocoa, and coffee, and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. (If using marijuana chocolate,* let sauce cool 2–3 minutes, then whisk in the chocolate pieces.) Pour over flour mix, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Pour in buttermilk mixture and stir until thoroughly incorporated.

BAKE THE CAKE Pour batter into pan and bake 20 minutes, or just until the edges of the cake pull away from the pan. Start the icing 10 minutes before cake is done: Whisk together butter, buttermilk, and cocoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Immediately remove from heat and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add vanilla and powdered sugar, and, starting on the lowest speed and working up to medium, whisk just until smooth, wiping the sides down occasionally with a rubber spatula. Remove from mixer and stir in pecans. Remove cake from oven and immediately spread icing with a rubber spatula, being careful not to tear the hot cake. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

*If you are using cannabis, start with the recommended 112-size serving of cake and wait a while before trying more.

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