The 1968 Peter Sellers comedy I Love You Alice B. Toklas is about Harold, an uptight, engaged lawyer (Sellers), who falls in love with a beautiful, free-spirited hippie girl, Nancy (Leigh Taylor-Young). Of course, she makes him question all the major decisions about his life he’s made so far. One of the ways she accomplishes this is by making him pot brownies, supposedly using a recipe from The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, published in 1954. What Nancy actually does is take a boxed brownie mix, which Harold happens to have on hand, and add copious amounts of marijuana to the batter.
Alice B. Toklas was writer Gertrude Stein’s long-time lover and companion, with whom she lived in Paris for almost forty years. Toklas’ own memoir, published after Stein’s death, contained memories of their lives together, amusing stories, and favorite recipes. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas had actually been written by Stein.
Contrary to modern folklore, Toklas’ cookbook doesn’t actually contain a recipe for pot brownies, per se. It does, however, contain a recipe for “Haschich Fudge” from Brion Gysin, listed under “Cold Desserts.” This is the recipe the cookbook is best known for, but it does contain many other excellent dishes, including very easy French onion soup.
Here is the actual notorious recipe (which doesn’t really sound like fudge, closer to majoun):
Haschich Fudge (which anyone could whip up on a rainy day)
This is the food of Paradise—of Baudelaire’s Artificial Paradises: it might provide an entertaining refreshment for a Ladies’ Bridge Club or a chapter meeting of the DAR. In Morocco it is thought to be good for warding off the common cold in damp winter weather and is, indeed, more effective if taken with large quantities of hot mint tea. Euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; ecstatic reveries and extension of one’s personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected. Almost anything Saint Theresa did, you can do better if you can bear to be ravished by ‘un évanouissement reveillé.’
Take 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 whole nutmeg, 4 average sticks of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon coriander. These should all be pulverised in a mortar. About a handful each of stoned dates, dried figs, shelled almonds and peanuts: chop these and mix them together. A bunch of canibus sativa can be pulverised. This along with the spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts, kneaded together. About a cup of sugar dissolved in a big pat of butter. Rolled into a cake and cut into pieces or made into balls about the size of a walnut, it should be eaten with care. Two pieces are quite sufficient.
Obtaining the canibus may present certain difficulties, but the variety known as canibus sativa grows as a common weed, often unrecognized, everywhere in Europe, Asia and parts of Africa; besides being cultivated as a crop for the manufacture of rope. In the Americas, while often discouraged, its cousin, called canibus indica, has been observed even in city window boxes. It should be picked and dried as soon as it has gone to seed and while the plant is still green.
Below, the pivital brownie scene from ‘I Love You Alice B. Toklas’