A glistening-white, tender orb of burrata is the ultimate delicacy, with a gently-formed exterior of fresh mozzarella sequestering stracciatella: a decadent core of oozing, soft mozzarella bits mixed with cream. The name “burrata” comes from the Italian word for “buttery,” a nod to not only the texture of the core, but also to the original production process that incorporated rich whey butter into the cheese’s filling. Whey butter is a potential by-product of making cheese from extra-creamy milk—such as water buffalo’s milk, used in traditional mozzarella di bufala. In contrast to churned butter, it’s very soft and almost oily in texture. This means that heavy cream makes a good, modern substitute when combined with bits of fresh mozzarella curd. This stracciatella (“shredded”) curd was originally comprised of bits and pieces left over after stretching and forming other shapes of mozzarella. Torn into fine threads, it is mixed with the whey butter or cream, then wrapped up in a fresh mozzarella pouch or spooned on its own.
When I teach home cheesemakers how to make burrata, I use a quick mozzarella recipe. For that stracciatella filling, an easy, acid-coagulated batch of ricotta mixed with a bit of heavy cream and/or butter, along with salt, pepper, and sometimes herbs, makes a fantastic stand-in. The entire process takes only a bit over an hour and produces dazzling, delicious results. For my recipe, click here.