10.05.2010

Eat This: PB&J Reimagined For Dessert




Blame it on seasonal back-to-school nostalgia or maybe the coveted
concord grape season, but the classic all-American pairing of peanut
butter and jelly is one of the hottest flavor trends to hit DC dessert
plates.


That simplest of childhood treats is being reimagined into whimsical
desserts by chefs, often to delicious effect.


"I used to eat Goober
by the spoonful," confesses Tiffany MacIsaac, pastry chef of Birch and
Barley
. Her outrageously good PB & J cheesecake (above) is a far cry
from the gooey striped layers in a Smuckers jar but the inspiration is
clear. "Peanut butter and jelly is something people are so familiar
with. Everyone knows that flavor," she says.


Her sophisticated spin takes vanilla creme fraiche cheesecake with a
rich peanut butter cookie crust and pairs it with an eye-popping purple
concord grape sorbet — "the skin is what gives it that beautiful color" —
and a dusting of peanut butter powder. Honey roasted peanuts and
delicate Champagne grapes complete the plate.


That peanut butter powder is made when peanut butter mixes with tapioca
starch, which MacIsaac says is a rare departure into molecular
gastronomy for her. "I was trying to emulate Wonder bread, which sticks
to the top of your mouth which I love."


Here are a few places to find a very sweet PB & J fix. And not a one
is smushed in a plastic baggie at the bottom of your lunch box ...


Againn: At this Brit-inspired gastropub, chef Wes
Morton created a dessert that brings
together peanut butter ganache, hazelnut feuilletine and concord grape
sorbet.


Birch
and Barley
: Tiffany MacIsaac's vanilla creme fraiche cheesecake with
peanut butter cookie crust and concord grape sorbet is a seriously
grown-up PB & J makeover.


Café Saint-Ex: Pastry chef Alison Reed
created a peanut butter cheesecake with marshmallow fluff and sliced
bananas. Now on the menu: her PB & J sundae with peanut butter gelato, concord grape
sauce, marshmallow fluff and a chocolate chip
cookie.


The Grille at Morrison House:
At this elegant Old Town restaurant, chef Dennis Marron adds a playful spin to the restaurant's cheese plate,
where the delicious St. Andre grilled cheese with
balsamic
figs is accompanied by a PB & J crostini with housemade peanut
butter,
blueberry gelée and blueberry paper. Talk about comfort food gone glam.


PS 7's: The petit four plate at the end of meal features a neat row of pastry chef Zak Miller's peanut butter fudge and mixed berry gelée.


Restaurant Eve: In Eve's tasting room, a cheese
course featuring Cashel blue cheese takes a PB & J turn with a puff of concord
grape mousse, crushed peanuts and peanut butter puree swiped across the
plate.

Find out what else you should be
eating with more
Eat This.

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