Mascarpone Cheese

Featured Article,Ingredient
July 18, 2011

Turns out happy cows really do make happy cheese—in Italy at least.

Mascarpone Cheese
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Even food professionals mispronounce this delicacy’s name—saying it as though the “r” precedes the “c”—so just being able to pronounce the word “mascarpone” (mah-skar-POH-nay) catapults you to a rare group of foodies.

Mascarpone is a double or triple cream cheese that’s a specialty of Lombard, the region surrounding Milan, Italy. As with most things Italian, it’s surrounded by romance. Allegedly, pampered cows are fed fresh flowers and herbs to produce a uniquely luscious milk. Many food historians insist that the word is derived from a Spanish official’s emphatic proclamation that the cheese was mas que bueno (better than good), although there are several more plausible explanations.

Mascarpone is lighter and less tart than American-style cream cheese with a mild flavor and decadent mouth feel, somewhere at the junction of creme fraiche and sweet butter. It’s a key ingredient in tiramisu, the espresso-spiked dessert. It’s a frequent addition to cheesecakes and zabaglione (an airy custard used to top fresh berries), and it makes a delicious stuffing for dates and figs. Mascarpone has savory uses as well. In its native region, it’s mixed with anchovies and mustard as a spread for bread and is used to enrich risottos in place of butter or other cheeses.

While mascarpone is available in mainstream groceries, it doesn’t come cheap. In a pinch, economize with this quick substitute: blend 6 ounces of American-style cream cheese with 3 tablespoons whipping cream and 2 tablespoons sour cream. Substitute for 8 ounces mascarpone.

—By Jo Marshall, Creator of Cookcabulary

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Lemon Mascarpone Pudding

For the Pudding Hollow Contest in 2006, Peter Beck of Hawley, Mass., created a rich and creamy mascarpone pudding covered with lemon curd.

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Mashed Potatoes with Mascarpone

Serve these outrageously rich mashed potatoes to guests or on holidays.

Pasta Primavera Recipe

Pasta Primavera

Creamy Alfredo sauce and vegetables make a deluxe pasta favorite.

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