It’s almost funny that we still call them “edibles,” as if that’s the extent of our expectations: they can be eaten. We might’ve set that low bar for our cool aunt’s cosmic brownies, but we’re living in a new age now, one where marijuana edibles can be a transformative food experience not in spite of that distinctive cannabis taste, but rather because of it.
Getting here was a challenge, even for the pros. It takes serious culinary chops to present the plant’s complexity in new, inventive, and inherently appealing ways. No one has moved that rock further than Atlas Edibles.
The Berkeley-based company’s award-winning clusters – nutrient dense, chewy-and-crunchy squares whose delicate dankness comes from an infusion of full-spectrum cannabis rosin – have set a new bar for what on-the-go edible cannabis can be.
Bite for bite, they aren’t just the most delicious edible we’ve tried. They’re the most memorable sticky treats a cannabis connoisseur could wish for.
[SEE ALSO: How to use cannabis edibles]
Start with a classically trained chef on a mission.
Atlas essentially began when co-founder Ezra Malmuth found out that his best friend’s father had Stage 4 prostate cancer. Given the task to “find something dad likes,” the Berkeley-area restaurant executive chef put his experience (including an internship at Chez Panisse), and culinary nutrition education to work.
“Over the next few months we were doing R&D for restaurant dishes … and came across a granola recipe.” It worked well with the coconut-oil infusions they’d been making in their downtime.
The granola clusters were a hit with dad, and soon, with everyone who tried them.
Malmuth speaks enthusiastically of “food terpenes,” and what the aromas we experience as we eat can do to guide the edible experience. Much thought went into each of Atlas’ varieties, and how their flavor profiles fit with the three types (indica, hybrid, and sativa) of full-spectrum rosin infusions.
“Our Mexican chocolate is our indica product,” Malmuth says of Origin, earthy chocolate-dense clusters made lightly crunchy via tiny toasted pepitas. “Those warm notes with the chocolate add that relaxation element. That dark chocolate with the cinnamon and toasted nuts … that lends itself to a body-warming sensation.”
The sativa cluster, called Ember, is based on a perfectly sticky, crackling granola with “brightness from the apricot, sweetness from the caramel, and that little hit of cayenne, which really works well with sativa rosin,” Malmuth says.
And if you’ve ever had a lemon poppyseed muffin, you have a pretty good idea of what it’s like to crunch on a bit of the lemon, blueberry and poppyseed hybrid clusters, called Stratus.
Full-spectrum potency. Rosin is the reason.
Atlas edibles are an undeniably decadent treat. But the decadence doesn’t end when you eat it: Those initial flavors, textures and mouth sensations are designed around not just a THC distillate oil, but full-spectrum rosin.
Rosin is undeniably more expensive and trickier to source than regular cannabis oils. Instead of using solvents to extract the plant’s compounds, rosin is made by physically compressing flowers and trim with heat and pressure, producing a thick, viscous oil. The process better preserves the plant’s spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes, compounds believed to influence effects – but also the flavor profiles in Atlas clusters.
“We definitely think the rosin is a big differentiator,” Malmuth says. He believes in its benefits, including purely as a higher-quality food ingredient. And there’s always the potential for a little more there there.
“Molecules are molecules, to an extent,” Malmuth says. “If you strip it down to just THC, it’s all the same. But it’s the ancillary compounds that give you the unique effects. You kind of get that energetic sensation from smelling sativa flowers. Same with a relaxing feeling from the dankness of indica. From a philosophical perspective, I think there’s more to rosin than we know. It costs a little more, but we didn’t want to sacrifice quality for price.”
From bite to buzz, it all comes together in a harmony of flavors, sensations, and effects, all with a clear through-line.
“We hear the best feedback from budtenders,” Malmuth says, “who tell us, ‘Wow, this edible is actually a sativa! This is actually an indica!'”
[Product(s) named in this story are registered under California license CDPH-T00000213]