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Mascarpone Cheese

Mascarpone is a high butterfat, creamy smooth, soft white cheese made famous in the classic dessert tiramisu.  The region of Lombardia lays claim to its origins dating back to the sixteenth century.   Mascarpone begins life not with milk, but with the cream that was skimmed off the top of whole milk.  The cream was heated and then some sort of acid was added to thicken it.  In the old days, it was tartaric acid, the residue found on the inside walls of wine barrels and is also where cream of tartar comes from.  Lemon or lime juice is a perfect acid for thickening the cream and the more acid used, the thicker the final consistency will be.  The cheese should have a smooth texture with a slightly sweet and tangy taste.   Mascarpone has many uses.  It can become a smooth sauce for pasta or vegetables, a dip flavored with spices and fresh herbs, a filling for cheesecake, cannoli, or eaten fresh with berries or other fruits.  Drizzle it with honey and nuts for a quick dessert or add a dollop to pureed soups.   Makes 2 cups
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Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

Pinch salt

Directions

Pour the cream into a 1-quart saucepan; attach an instant read thermometer to the side of the pan cook the mixture over low heat until it reaches 180°F.  Stir in the lemon juice and continue cooking until the cream thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Stir in the salt.  Turn off the heat and allow the cream to cool for about 45 minutes.

Line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth or clean towel over a bowl and pour the cream slowly into the cheesecloth.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate the cheese for at least 5 hours.  Use it within three or four days.

This recipe is featured on show 2815 – Mascarpone.

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