mascarpone\mas-car-pone: an Italian triple cream cheese
Mascarpone (occasionally mispronounced mar-sca-pone) dates way back to the 16th or 17th century, from an area in Italy southwest of Milan. It is said to be named after something called mascarpa, a milk product made from the whey of aged cheese, or from mascarpia - a word in the local dialect for ricotta; although that would technically be incorrect because mascarpone is not made from whey like ricotta is.
It is used in many applications these days - one of the most recognized forms is in tiramisu. There is a Martha Stewart recipe for Honey Buns that I've been meaning to try, that includes mascarpone as well as crème fraîche in the filling. Mascarpone can be used in sweet and savory dishes, and it makes a fabulous thickener in place of sour cream or butter. It's delicious added to creamy pasta dishes and can be used as a base for dips and sauces.
When I made my Daring Bakers challenge for February (tiramisu), one of the must-make components was mascarpone. I don't like buying my own mascarpone because it's terribly expensive up here in Canada - I'm not sure what it costs in the US or abroad. A medium sized container (probably not even two cups worth) costs upwards of $5.00. Yikes!!
Now that I've conquered making my own, I doubt I'll buy it again. It's that easy. And the best part is, you know whats in it (heavy cream and lemon juice) and that it's as fresh as can be. Try it!!
I'll upload a picture as soon as I can take it - my camera battery died on me! Ack!!
Makes 12 oz
2 cups whipping cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Bring 1 inch of water to the boil in a wide skillet. Reduce heat to medium low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium sized heat resistant bowl, then place bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, till it reaches 190F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating to reach this temperature. Then add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. It will coat the back of your wooden spoon thickly, and you will see a few whey streaks when you stir.
Remove the bowl from the water and let cool about 20 minutes. Line a sieve with 4 layers of dampened cheesecloth and set over a bowl. Transfer the cream mixture to the lined sieve. Do not squeeze or press on the cheese.
Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate in the sieve, overnight or up to 24 hours. It will firm up and become thick and creamy. Keep refrigerated and use within 5 days.
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