Burrata Ice Cream is Sweet, Savory and Completely Delicious
Few things elicit raves like a plate of burrata cheese. Now, some chefs are doubling down on its soft, creamy characteristics by incorporating burrata into ice cream, gelato and other frozen desserts. Here's how a few chefs are turning burrata into luscious dishes.
When Doug Psaltis of RPM Italian moved to Chicago, he fell in love with a classic Midwestern treat. “Frozen custard is incredible, and doesn't get that much attention around the whole country,” Psaltis says. “My goal was to create a gelato that had that same rich, fresh, dairy cream flavor. And burrata really embodies that.”
When it comes to burrata ice cream, he says it's the quality of the ingredients that counts the most. “Get amazing quality burrata and amazing dairy to go with it, so there's nothing to harm that great fresh flavor of the burrata. And I would give the burrata the chance to shine and add ingredients that would complement it.” For Psaltis, that includes candied tomatoes, Italian basil and extra-virgin olive oil in a caprese-inspired dessert.
At Sfoglina in Washington DC, Executive Pastry Chef Brandon Malzahn is also churning out an Italian-style burrata gelato—only his version is soft-serve. Like Psaltis, he's also using it in a caprese-esque dish, topping it with basil fluid gel and candied micro basil. “The soft serve base has a touch of sea salt in it to compensate [for] the sweetness of the basil gel,” he says.
Guests can also get it in standard soft serve fashion: solo or paired with a corresponding gelato flavor as a twist cone. Malzahn says that the salted caramel-burrata swirl is the most popular. And while strawberries are always available as a topping, he's always playing around with other ideas. “[Burrata gelato] is also great with oranges that have been macerated with Grand Marnier,” he says. He's also paired it with grapes that have been macerated in Moscato d'Asti, vanilla bean, lemon peel, balsamic and bay leaves.
Dominique Ansel is also whipping up burrata soft serve at New York's Dominique Ansel Kitchen. “I wanted to create a vanilla alternative that was creamier, more flavorful and was also less sweet,” he says. “So the first flavor we came up with was burrata.” He tops it with a few drops of balsamic caramel and microbasil, and places a whole confit strawberry inside a honey-tuile waffle cone. “It works really well cold. You get that bit of tanginess from the balsamic caramel and a bright kick with the tiny sprigs of microbasil.”
Ansel keeps the burrata soft serve going all summer, with a second flavor rotating each month. “We put a lot of thought and testing into developing our second flavor each year,” Ansel says. “It has to complement the burrata, since people can get a swirl cone if they’d like, but it also has to stand alone with pronounced flavors as well.” This year's lineup includes cold brew soft serve with anise biscotti and milk foam, white peach with salted pistachios and lavender honey, and dark chocolate olive oil with fig agrodolce and Maldon sea salt.
Burrata ice cream isn't relegated solely to desserts. An appetizer at Cowboy Star in San Diego features local carrots, cilantro chimichurri, soy-marinated carrots and hen cracklins topped with burrata ice cream. Although the dish was conceived by a former chef de cuisine, Pastry Chef Jamie Decena has since modified the burrata ice cream based on kitchen feedback.
“When I first got here, the people on garde manger had problems trying to scoop it because it was really icy,” she says. The solution? She made it more pliable by adding more sugar and incorporating more air by freezing the ice cream with liquid nitrogen. The boost of sweetness from the ice cream makes for a more flavorful dish.
“The creaminess and the additional sugar, the sweetness, balances out the acidity of the carrots,” says Executive Chef Victor Jimenez. “We cook the carrots in a reduction of carrot juice and a little bit of chicken stock at 84 degrees Celsius, so the carrots congeal, and they have that tanginess and a little bit of sour. So it's sweet and sour, and you have a little bit of freshness with the chimichurri and a little bit of saltiness with the crispy chicken skin.”
Even when it's not used in ice cream, burrata can give a rich boost to creamy desserts. At SPQR in San Francisco, Matthew Accarrino makes a buffalo milk gelato, using buffalo milk from a dairy in nearby Sebastapol. For one dish, he makes buffalo milk gelato with strawberries that have been roasted in balsamic vinegar, port wine and a little sugar. He scoops the roasted strawberry gelato atop a pile of whipped burrata, then adds roasted strawberries and torn pieces of lemon verbena cake.
“We take burrata, a little bit of buffalo milk and a little bit of xanthan gum, and we put it in a charger and aerate it. It comes out in this cloud of whipped burrata cheese, and we don't sweeten in or anything,” Accarrino says. “Then on top of it you have this more concentrated flavor gelato. It's a super nice, light dessert.”