Mascarpone is a soft and creamy fresh cheese originating in the north of Italy. Traditionally made from buffalo milk, today it is made using cow milk. The cream is heated to 90–100°C and then curdled before being left to drain for 2 days. The mascarpone is then salted and lightly whipped. Its texture is halfway between that of cream and butter, for which it is also classed as a triple-cream cheese. The fat content of mascarpone is 45–80%. It is high in calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin A.
Mascarpone cheese comes in 250-g and 500-g tubs, found in the fresh food section of supermarkets. It can also be bought by weight from Italian grocery stores.
Gently mix mascarpone to soften before use in preparations.
Macarpone withstands cooking well. It can be boiled without breaking down. It can be used to thicken sauces, to add creaminess to cream soups, and as a substitute for crème fraîche in tarts and quiches.
The main ingredient of Italian tiramisu, mascarpone adds smoothness to other sweet and savory dishes. It can be used as a spread for bread in place of butter, to accompany red and tropical fruits, and to tone down the flavor of smoked fish and grilled white meats.
Mascarpone should be stored in in the dairy compartment of the refrigerator. It should be used within three days of opening. If frozen, it can keep for up to three months.
Mascarpone is quite high in calories. It is also high in calcium.