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mindy's, mindy segal, edibles, desserts, hotchocolate, hot chocolate, mindy, segal, pastry chef, cresco
Photograph: Zoe Rain

One of Chicago’s best pastry chefs is making THC-laced edibles inspired by her favorite desserts

Mindy Segal wants to take you on a dope flavor journey.

Maggie Hennessy
Written by
Maggie Hennessy
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Before recreational weed was legalized in Chicago earlier this year, the only edibles we could get our hands on were dodgy pot brownies and stale rice krispies treats with an unsavory, hempy aftertaste.

While the rest of us muddled through off-market treats, award-winning Chicago pastry chef Mindy Segal was concocting a line of edibles that would raise the bar. In partnership with local cannabis company Cresco Labs, her dream manifested into Mindy’s Chef Led Artisanal Edibles, a line of THC-infused gummies, hard sweets, chocolates and fruit chews.

Rather than invent in a sterile laboratory stocked with flavor extracts, Segal invited the Cresco team to her storied Bucktown restaurant, Mindy’s HotChocolate, where they sat around the time-worn communal table and embarked on a Willy Wonka-style tasting of her favorite desserts, from kiwi-tinged key-lime cheesecake and chocolate-peanut butter brittle to macerated melon sorbet. Eventually, 20 flavors dwindled to six, which the group workshopped into their final gummy forms, featuring a flavorless cannabis distillate and low (5mg) and micro (2mg) doses of THC and CBD—meaning you don’t have to divvy them into 12 pieces, or pop one and pray.

“I wanted Cresco to really understand where each flavor comes from, how it began and how my flavor journey happens,” Segal says. “I’m so, so proud of what we created.”

Seated at the same table where it all began, I too took the flavor journey through the beloved desserts that inspired these one-of-a-kind edibles. Peek into Segal's sugar-obsessed brain and explore the treats that started it all.

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Honey Sweet Melon
Photograph: Zoe Rain

Honey Sweet Melon

These bright, earthy, cantaloupe-hued jewels started like many of Segal’s best dessert ideas: as a sorbet. “A lot of times I do sorbets like a flavor study,” she says. “For this one, I take cantaloupe or muskmelon, pour honey over it and let it sit for like a week; then I make a sorbet out of that.” The resulting gummy delivers the rich, macerated essence of honey-drenched melon, with floral lychee notes. As Segal puts it, if you’re into “austere and off-the-beaten-path” flavors, then this is your gummy, hipster.

Cool Keylime Kiwi
Photograph: Zoe Rain

Cool Keylime Kiwi

“Kiwi is underappreciated. It's beautiful, with juicy, tangy fruit and a great texture with those seeds,” Segal says. “And whenever I eat key-lime cheesecake, I think of kiwis and I don’t know why.” While workshopping what’s become a crowd-favorite confection, Segal wondered what would happen if she made a key-lime cheesecake packed with kiwi flavor. She starts by juicing fresh kiwi, which she folds into the batter before spreading it atop a graham cracker base glazed in key lime-kiwi curd. Once baked, she garnishes the cake with lemony oven-dried kiwi slices to further intensify the flavors. The result is creamy, bright and balanced like the gummy it inspires; both exude lush tropical sweetness with a citrusy edge and—wait—is that a hint of banana at the end? “Whenever I eat fresh kiwi, I taste banana,” Segal says. Here we go again.

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Freshly Picked Berries
Photograph: Zoe Rain

Freshly Picked Berries

Bursting with the pure, jammy taste of mixed summer berries, you might not suspect that this gummy—inspired by peak-season California and Pacific-Northwest fruit—is the most complex of Segal’s lineup. She starts by whipping up several preserves and compotes (think strawberry-rooibos tea and raspberry-red wine) before sandwiching them inside shortbread cookies to let those unique flavors shine. Finally, she mixes all three preserves together and layers them into a pistachio-orange blossom linzer torte, a traditional Austrian pastry. “I’m essentially leading you down a path on a flavor journey that ultimately brings all the berries together,” Segal says. “So when you eat the gummy, you take off in this berry hot air balloon.” We’d take a ride.

Glazed Clementine Orange
Photograph: Zoe Rain

Glazed Clementine Orange

Most chefs will tell you that nailing down a fierce orange flavor means going beyond simply juicing said citrus. To get this flavor just right, Segal calls up a powerhouse bench of supporting players, like kumquat, tangerine and clementine. Then she starts candying rinds like mad. “One thing that makes me really giddy is candied citrus zest,” she says. “So when thinking about this flavor, I was like, let’s take all different beautiful citrus—clementines and kumquats and minneola tangerines—take the rind off and keep a little of the flesh, and candy them. That process creates this intense, smack-you-in-the-face orange flavor.” Perhaps she’ll take that pile of sugar-coated candied peels and garnish an elegant white chocolate mousse cake. Or she’ll distill them into a gummy that packs a flavor wallop as juicy and bright as its traffic-cone hue.

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Botanical White Grapefruit
Photograph: Zoe Rain

Botanical White Grapefruit

Segal reached for the liquor cabinet while dreaming up this clean, fresh and lightly botanical gummy—which is the candy embodiment of a Greyhound cocktail. “Seriously, what is better than grapefruit and gin?” she says. She juices white grapefruit, a tart-sweet cross between pomelo and sweet orange, then adds straight gin—just enough to enhance the fruit without really tasting the booze, and churns the mixture into sorbet the color of cloudy-white seaglass. Pithy and zingy with a whisper of juniper, this gummy’s heady citrus aura washes over your palate like that first sip of a bright, ice-cold summer cocktail.

Lush Black Cherry
Photograph: Zoe Rain

Lush Black Cherry

Cherry-flavored confections might be a staple of the American candy world, but that doesn’t make them good. “I wanted to do a cherry flavor that doesn’t taste like cough syrup,” Segal says. Instead, she decided her ideal cherry candy would capture the essence of the fruit when it’s poached. She simmers tart and sweet cherries in poaching liquid made from kriek lambic tinged with vanilla and orange peel until the composition becomes thick, rich and glossy, like the fancy Luxardo variety. The resulting gummy avenges the medicinal flavor with sensual, almondy sweetness accented by hints of vanilla, citrus and cocoa. Seemingly spent on verbiage as she pops this final, fittingly decadent gummy, Segal instead imitates hitting a home run and watching, satisfied, as it sails out of the ballpark.

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