Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese that’s quite popular as one of the primary ingredients used to prepare tiramisu; an Italian dessert made with coffee and chocolate. Most people associate it with desserts due to its sweet and milky flavor, but it can also be added to savory foods to enhance their texture.
In this blog post, you’ll learn all about this luxurious cream cheese that originated in Northern Italy during the Renaissance – what it is, what it tastes like, and how to use it in a variety of recipes.
What Is Mascarpone?
Mascarpone is an incredibly smooth and fresh cream cheese that’s ivory in color. It has a milky flavor and it’s extremely easy to spread. Since it has a high butterfat content, it’s quite rich and butter-like in texture.
It’s pricier than traditional cream cheese but you can find less expensive options that are produced by U.S. brands in the Italian style. It has about twice as much fat as you’ll find in American cream cheese, which is why it just melts in your mouth.
Mascarpone and American cream cheese can be used interchangeably, but you’ll notice differences in both texture and taste.
What Does Mascarpone Taste Like?
The flavor of mascarpone is often compared to crème Fraiche, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and even clotted cream, but you’ll find that it’s actually a little sweeter and less tangy. It also has just the right amount of acidity. The rich and creamy texture of mascarpone makes it a great addition to both sweet and savory dishes.
How to Use Mascarpone
Even though mascarpone is mostly associated with desserts, you can also use it as an ingredient in a variety of savory dishes and give them a rich and creamy flavor. Here are some ways you can use mascarpone to elevate the flavor of all your recipes:
- Use mascarpone as a substitute for whipped cream. Add it on top of a bowl of fresh slices of fruit or use it as a frosting for your delicious cakes and cupcakes.
- Add it into your favorite recipe of cheesecake or use it as a replacement for sour cream in muffins or banana bread.
- You can also add it to any homemade ice cream base. All you need to do is mix in about 8 ounces of mascarpone in heated custard before letting it churn for an extra rich and creamy consistency.
- For a light dessert, you can top a big dollop of mascarpone with chocolate shavings or drizzle a little bit of honey or maple syrup over it. You can serve this with freshly picked berries or plain cookies.
- You can make savory dishes like parmesan risotto or polenta all the more flavorful by using mascarpone in the recipe.
- Use as a substitute for cream in your creamy pasta sauce or any other dish.
- Add it into soups to thicken their consistency, stuff it into chicken breasts, or spread it on top of bagels to enjoy a delicious breakfast.
- You can also prepare a super easy dip by mixing chopped garlic and fresh herbs into the mascarpone and serve it with your choice of crackers.
Check out these recipes:
How to Store Mascarpone
Mascarpone usually comes packaged in tubs and must be kept inside your refrigerator. Always check the best before date on the package to make sure you use it before it gets spoiled. It typically lasts for a week.
Since mascarpone can go bad really fast, you should consume it within a few days of opening it. Store the leftover product in your fridge and make sure it’s tightly sealed. If it develops a strange odor or gets moldy, you must discard it immediately.
Can You Freeze Mascarpone?
You’ll be happy to learn that mascarpone is actually one of the few soft cheeses that can be frozen. Before putting it in your freezer, you need to make sure it’s tightly sealed in the container it came in and then place it inside a heavy-duty freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.
Before using frozen mascarpone, let it thaw slowly in your refrigerator and consume it within two months. If your mascarpone separates after defrosting, you can save it by whisking it vigorously when it’s still pretty cold.
Mascarpone is a type of cream cheese that’s known to be quite similar to ricotta. Ricotta, however, is used in a variety of savory dishes, whereas mascarpone is generally associated with sweet treats.
Now that you’ve learned everything you need to know about this Italian cream cheese, feel free to use it as a substitute for your traditional cream cheese and enhance the flavor of all your dishes!