I have been making different batches of mascarpone at home and I have been using it in all sorts of dishes.
I have stuffed fresh figs with it (as a non sweetened savoury cheese), added zabaglione to it and used it to accompany stuffed peaches with raspberries scattered on top (stuffing made with amaretti and crushed almonds), spooned dollops of it into cold cream soups, thickened and enriched sauces, used it in a baked plum tart (like a cheesecake), enjoyed it with fresh berries, mixed it into dips, blended it with gorgonzola or with feta and used it as a spread …..and have made the most of having it as a staple in my fridge.
Mascarpone is a cheese, originally from Lombardy but now used extensively in savoury and sweet dishes elsewhere in Italy and of course in other parts of the world. It can be difficult to find and making it at home is so easy.
Cheese is made with creamy milk but mascarpone is made from cream that thickens when coagulated with cultures (like those used to make sour cream) .
You will find various explanations of how it is made. The most common is that the cream is heated, then acidified with citric acid or lemon juice and then kept at a high temperature for 5 or 10 minutes.
However, I use a much simpler way – I do not heat the cream nor do I coagulate it with lemon juice (this can also impart an unwanted lemon taste).
I mix fresh cream with soured cream. The sour cream introduces the bacterial culture to the cream and after leaving it for 2 days or more it thickens. The result is a very thick cream with a slightly sharp, sour taste – and very much like the commercially made Mascarpone. Buttermilk can also be used to introduce the culture to the cream.
Mascarpone is very much the consistency of clotted cream, but this has a higher fat content and it is thickened by heating with no cultures added.
Crème fraiche is also cultured cream; to make this I add a higher amount of sour cream to the cream and make it slightly more acidic in taste.
I like to use double cream and do not use thickened cream because it contains a thickener.
Combine one carton of cream and half of that amount of sour cream in a glass container. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using.
When stored in the fridge, the cream will continue to mature and thicken; it keeps well for about one week.