LoSasso, Wessel, Jorgensen, Zakarian Talk Peanut Butter & White Chocolate

Maybe the most interesting thing about White Chocolate Wonderful -- labeled as "peanut butter blended with sweet white chocolate" -- is that it contains no white chocolate. Actually, it contains no chocolate at all. The ingredients: Peanuts, evaporated cane juice, vanilla, cocoa butter, palm fruit oil, lecithin, and salt. The product is sold at Publix (and Whole Foods on Alton Road), and is produced by Peanut Butter & Co.,"a cozy little sandwich shop in New York City" (on Sullivan Street in the West Village). The same company makes Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl peanut butter, but Publix doesn't carry that one. A jar of White Chocolate Wonderful is $6.

A White Chocolate Wonderful-and-blueberry preserves combo is the upcoming "sandwich of the week" for July 4 at Peanut Butter & Co. On the jar label is says "try me with pears." Neither idea seems all that inspiring, so I contacted a handful of Miami chefs to see if they could come up with something better. I asked each to pretend the product tasted just like peanut butter and white chocolate, as the latter taste notes are pretty hard to detect (probably because, as I say, there's no chocolate involved).

Keep going for some nifty dessert concepts from three veteran chefs (Jan Jorgensen, Dewey LoSasso, and Kris Wessel) and three chefs who have recently taken on new positions (Todd Erickson of Haven Lounge, Geoffrey Zakarian of Tudor House, and Jordi Panisello of Fontainebleau Miami Beach). More than one person turned to Elvis for inspiration.

Dewey LoSasso, The Forge (creator of the lobster peanut butter & jelly sandwich):
"I would either recreate the peanut butter and banana sandwich and spread the White Chocolate Wonderful in between two slices of homemade banana bread (it works because Elvis says so); or I would counteract the sweetness with some spice and make a habanero-White Chocolate Wonderful fondue, sprinkled with sea salt and perfect for dipping with charred shrimp."

Kris Wessel, Red Light Little River:
"First thought would be to inject it into a beignet, the kind we have in New Orleans -- right as it comes out of the fryer, and then serve it with a freezing cold strawberry milkshake (strawberry to give a little fruit acid to the very rich white chocolate and peanut butter)."

Jan Jorgensen, Two Chefs:
"Well, what comes to mind is simply a peanut butter & white chocolate soufflé. We have done it here with great success, although admittedly with dark chocolate, but I can't see why white wouldn't work. A dark chocolate ganache could be served alongside."

Jordi Panisello, newly appointed Executive Pastry Chef at Fontainebleau:
"I would create a White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake with wild strawberry compote and banana marshmallow ice cream. This is kind of a tribute to Elvis' famous peanut butter and banana sandwich with the jelly being the strawberry compote. Elvis used to frequent the Fontainebleau, so in this case my inspiration comes from the resort's history. The flavors are iconic and blend very well together. As I'm putting them together in my mind, I can taste the combination: a little sweet with a little acidity from the fruit. And then the Graham cookie texture and the creamy cheese cake and topping with banana and marshmallow -- all smooth textures."

Geoffrey Zakarian, Tudor House Restaurant at Dream South Beach (1111 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach):
"I would use this as a base for a new version of banoffee pie -- which is a delightful caramel banana cream pie. I think it would be smashing!"

Todd Erickson, Executive Chef, Haven Lounge (1237 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach):
"I think this new product would lend itself perfectly to being infused in a rich vanilla custard and accompanied by some shards of peanut brittle and white chocolate dipped pretzels. The liquid nitrogen freezes rapidly and at a very low temperature (minus 320F), providing a super velvety ice cream mouth feel -- while the peanut brittle and white chocolate dipped pretzels would echo the primary ice cream flavoring (White Chocolate Wonderful). Sweet, salty, crunchy, creamy, and super cold. I actually may make this flavor this week, sounds too good not to."

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Miami New Times' restaurant reviewer for the past decade, and the world's indisputable master of disguise.
Contact: Lee Klein