Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fresh Direct: PB&J

The classic peanut butter & jelly is a great sandwich--I'll be the first to admit. But as we've discussed, just about everything is better when it is encased in chocolate. Fresh Direct (a NYC-area online grocery delivery service) bypasses the bread and composes the contents of the sandwich inside a dark chocolate casing. I got this bar as part of a little sampler pack--Fresh Direct makes a few other chocolate bars in addition to bark, chocolate covered marshmallows and s'mores, and other treats.

Fresh Direct: PB&J
Cocoa content: 72%
Notable ingredients: peanut praline; raspberry jelly; toasted rice
Origin: n/a

There is, I guess, some debate over what constitutes the best pb&j sandwich. I think most people would agree that it's best on white bread. I personally think raspberry jelly is the way to go with jellies: strawberry is cloyingly sweet and grape is alright but not festive enough. I imagine there are people out there who prefer crunchy peanut butter in their sandwich. I'm not one of those people, because I think the uninterrupted creaminess of this sandwich is one of its claims to fame, but this bar does address those people.

The peanut butter (actually a peanut praline, made with almonds as well as peanuts) is pretty creamy--there are certainly no chunks of nut floating around. But the jelly is pleasantly textured, an indication of its freshness, and there are some other textural surprises, too. The toasted rice, which is distributed conservatively so as not to crowd the bar, served two purposes: it appeases the crunchy peanut butter people, and it sort of approximates bread for those who miss the carb aspect of the sandwich. For me, it added a really nice crunch that didn't muddy up the cleanness of each smooth bite.

This bar's artful composition is no accident: all of the Fresh Direct bars are actually developed by the company's executive pastry chef, Jean-Francois Bonnet, who came from the NYC restaurant Daniel. The bars are tiny enough that you could eat it in one go, and they're not weighed down with too much added sugar or artificial flavors.

This bar was excellent: I only wish they came in bigger packages or in boxes of little peanut butter cup squares. A.

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