Illustration by Alex Chiu

I'M A BIG FAN of keeping a plentiful supply of pot cookies handy. Not that I'm a reefer fiend—I'm a terrible pothead actually, prone to sleepy Irish goodbyes—but there are a surprising amount of uses for a bag of dank cookies: Presents! Snow-day entertainment! Pain relief! I threw out my back a couple of weeks ago and have mostly been living off those buttery saviors. Did they take the pain away? You bet your sweet pot-eating ass they did, while also keeping me entertained as I groaned on the floor.

Thing is, a batch of pot cookies goes a really long way. Unless you like exploring the outer limits of your sanity, you'll probably never want to eat a whole cookie, especially the ones my husband makes. Which means all those cookies can sit for months, getting stale in the icicled depths of a smelly freezer. So we wanted to learn how to go to the next level: tinctures and candy. With the help of a ganja guru—he suggested I call him Chef Bob Marley—the hubby and I attended a private cooking show-type demonstration.

On the docket: pot butter. We already knew the basics of making this Mary Jane staple, but Marley had some great tips. With enough sweet time (eat a pot cookie first, whydontcha?), it's relatively easy. There are plenty of approaches to extracting fat-soluble THC from your weed using butter; Marley says the key is to keep it simple. Add water to the mixture—more water than butter.

In a saucepan, combine about two cups of water, a cup of butter (plus a couple of extra tablespoons to account for waste), and two heaping handfuls of weed shake. (I'd say you could get away with less, but Marley's a medical marijuana grower, so he went full-hog with the plentiful key ingredient.) Put that shit on slow simmer over low heat for three to four hours, stirring every so often. This is the nifty part: Once done simmering, strain the entire concoction through cheesecloth (squeeze the butter through) into a tall glass beer stein (or any glass pint, as long as it isn't narrow at the top). Given time to cool in the fridge, the weed-infused butter floats to the top, pretty as a green picture, separated from the murky gray bong water at the bottom of the glass. Use a knife to cut the cake of butter from the glass, scrape the weed gunk off the bottom, and you have a sizeable dollop of magic margarine. Use it like normal butter for whatever you want—us, we opted to make pot caramels.

Pot caramels: This was easy—just more sitting around, enduring simmering time. (Time to break off another chunk of pot cookie!) Marley recommended buying a candy thermometer to keep close tabs on the temp—you're aiming for 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower temps will give you a gooey mess, and going higher (heh!) means you'll end up with Werther's Originals.

With a recipe swiped straight from the internets, my husband combined 2 cups white sugar, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 cup corn syrup, 1 cup evaporated milk, 1 pint heavy whipping cream, ¼ cup pot butter, and ¾ cup regular butter in a heavy-duty saucepan. Simmer on medium-low heat. Stir occasionally with a high-temp spatula to keep from scorching. You gotta be patient and resist the temptation to turn up the heat when the mixture appears to level out at 220 degrees. Once the caramel hits 250 degrees—it'll take about 45 minutes to an hour—immediately remove from heat and stir in 1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract. Pour onto a cookie sheet lined with greased parchment paper. Let cool. Once set, cut up your bounty.

The batch we made is surprisingly strong—like holy-shit strong. So our serving size is tiny—about the size of a Halloween-type caramel, only flatter. Test it out, but go slow, marijuana warrior. And remember to wait for the first dose to hit before supplementing with more goodies (about an hour).

Marley mentioned that a lot of people are scared of marijuana edibles because it's nearly impossible to tell how strong they are and too much can really fuck up your day. He used to be wary, too, until he took a trip to Amsterdam. At that time, the cafés had started packaging edibles with recommended serving sizes. He followed the recommendation and was pleasantly surprised. Moral of the story: No Cookie Monster scarfing. No one wants to be the idiot who shovels down four pot brownies and hides in their bedroom for the entirety of the only party she ever threw (maybe that happened).

We got 180 servings from the caramel batch—but I'd actually halve all those puppies for 360 servings! Plus, they'll keep until the end times.


DIY Tincture

"This pot cookie isn't working. Maybe I'll eat another one."

Cut to crying by the couch in mortal fear of the neighbor's iguana. It's a common rookie mistake with edibles: overdoing it while waiting for the high to hit. But tinctures, on the other hand, act almost immediately through the mucous membranes, one drop of liquid marijuana at a time.

Our guide to all things pot, Chef Bob Marley, didn't have much to say about crafting tinctures except that a rudimentary tincture is easy to make. Further research bears that out: marijuana + alcohol + time = tincture. As with most DIY weed recipes, there are 1,567 different methods. But here's a simple way to create a tincture: Fill a mason jar nearly to the top with dry weed—chopped up pretty good, like what you would use in a joint—then pour Everclear or another high-proof alcohol over the weed, nearly to the top of the jar. Leave some room, because you'll be shaking that jar about once a day for two weeks.

After the weed has gotten nice and stewed in the booze, strain the mixture through a tea strainer or through cheesecloth. (Touching the mixture will get you really high! Wear gloves!) The tincture might stain whatever it touches, so beware. Then bottle it up in a clean container. You now have tincture. It can be pretty potent, so test it out with an eyedropper, one to two drops under your tongue until you get a feel for its potency. May that side-eyeing iguana never darken your door again.