How many sandwiches have not one, but TWO songs inspired by the ingredients? I’m going to guess there’s only one: the mighty peanut butter and jelly. Biting into a standard PB&J sandwich is a fine enough way to celebrate International Peanut Butter and Jelly Day (April 2nd), but there are a few tastier (and sweeter) alternatives in San Diego, namely the PB&J cookie at Zanzibar, or the peanut butter and jelly-inspired dessert at the Grant Grill.
Zanzibar’s PB&J cookie features sweet preserves spread between two moist peanut butter cookies, with crunchy, caramelized sugar on top. It’s exactly like eating a cookie version of the sandwich. My pal Laurie turned me on to these at a recent trip to the East Village location. Some bites were heavier on the jelly than others, which threw me off at first, but the combination of the fruit with the salty peanuts worked just as well in cookie form as it does in sandwich form. It’s one of the most popular dessert items, so get there early — we got the last one available when we visited, and it was only lunchtime.
Pastry Chef Chris Kurth of The Grant Grill has also created a clever take on the classic combo. Soft peanut butter mousse is complimented by strawberry basil ice cream, salted caramel, and roasted cocoa bean nougatine, with a dehydrated chocolate milk meringue for crunch. The highlight of the plate was the peanut butter mousse, which tasted like the world’s best peanut butter cup. The caramel and chocolate elements paired well with it, but the herbaceous flavors of the strawberry basil ice cream made it best on its own, as a palate cleanser. Changing out the salted caramel for a more aggressive fruit sauce would be a good way to bring all of the elements together and really push the PB&J angle, but that would mean losing out on the full body buzz of the caramel.
Am I missing any other peanut butter and jelly desserts? Let me know in the comments section!