Buttermilk Snow with Coffee


  • 5 pounds medium beets, preferably yellow, orange, red or chioggia
  • Dark roasted coffee beans, as needed
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 star anise
  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • ¼ cup horseradish, grated
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup of housemade buttermilk, recipe follows
  • Liquid nitrogen, as needed
  • Flaky sea salt, as needed


Wash and dry beets. In a Dutch oven or baking dish, completely cover the beets with coffee beans. Cover in foil and cook in preheated 425 F oven until tender, about 1 hour. Cool.

In a small pot ,bring vinegar, sugar, ½ cup water and star anise to a boil and transfer dressing to another container to cool. Peel beets while still warm and tear the beets into pieces.

Beat cream cheese, horseradish and salt until smooth and slowly add the buttermilk to combine. Pass through a fine-mesh strainer and add liquid to a whipped cream dispenser and charge twice.

Using an insulated bowl, carefully pour 1½ liters of liquid nitrogen into the bowl. Working quickly, dispense the horseradish buttermilk into the liquid nitrogen and crush with metal whisk. Transfer frozen horseradish buttermilk to blender and spin on high for 5 seconds or so until frozen buttermilk turns to “snow.” Keep frozen until ready to use.

Season the beets with the vinegar dressing and finish with flaky sea salt. Top with buttermilk snow.

To make housemade buttermilk: Blend 2 cups whole milk with 3 tablespoons lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon citric acid; allow to rest for 1 hour.

Chef Vinson Petrillo, Zero Restaurant + Bar, Charleston, South Carolina, from Food Fanatics Magazine