I love this stuff! Not only is the name fun to say, (MASK - ARE- PONE - AY, go ahead, say it a few times out loud), but the creamy, deliciousness of mascarpone cheese makes both sweet and savory dishes all the better. Eat it with fresh berries, stir it into coffee, mix in some herbs,garlic or a strong cheese like Gorgonzola and spread on toasted bread or crackers, or sweeten and add it to desserts like Tiramisu or the cream puffs that I promise will be coming soon.
Not always easy to find, this cheese usually carries a large price tag for an itty bitty tiny container. I stumbled onto a recipe at FoodBuzz.com (check out the daily top 9 recipes on the right side of my blog)and discovered that with a little planning a couple of ingredients, and a few household tools I can now have mascarpone cheese any ole time I want it.
Now, I know some of you are saying, can't I just substitute regular cream cheese for this stuff? The answer is no. The texture of mascarpone is very soft and smooth like a thick pudding, not heavy and dense the way cream cheese is. The flavor is sweeter and honestly, your recipe just won't taste as good. Besides, it's pretty cool to say, "I make my own cheese."
Recipe Source: Italy
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon/lime juice
You will also need:
thermometer (a digital cooking thermometer is best, but a candy thermometer will work too)
heat proof, non reactive bowl
In a large pan heat about 2 inches of water to a bowl. When the water boils, reduce to low and keep at a simmer. Pour your cream into the bowl and carefully place the bowl directly into the pan of water creating a water bath. Insert your thermometer and stir frequently until the temperature reaches 189 F. This can take a while, resist the temptation to increase the heat.
When the cream is at 189 F, add the lemon juice and stir. When the cream starts to thicken and bubble just slightly, remove the bowl from the water bath and allow to cool on the counter about 20-40 minutes until room temperature.
While the cream is cooling, dampen your cheese cloth and place into your strainer (Your cheesecloth may need to be folded over a few times if the weave isn't tight but that is fine it will work.) Place your strainer over a bowl. When the cream is cooled, pour the cream into the strainer.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 16 hours. After it has set at least 16 hours, scrape the cheese into an air tight container and refrigerate you will have 8-10 oz. Discard the liquid that has drained off.
Mascarpone will last 2-3 days in your refrigerator. It has no preservatives so plan accordingly and make some delicious food with your delicious cheese!