Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese.
It is milky-white in color and is easy to spread.
Mascarpone is made by curdling milk cream with certain acidic substances such as lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid.
The traditional method is to use lemon juice at the rate of three tablespoons per pint of heated heavy cream.
The cream is allowed to cool to room temperature before it is poured into a cheese cloth-lined colander, set into a shallow pan or dish, and chilled and strained for one to two days.
This cream cheese has a slightly sweet and delicate flavor, but is an exceptionally rich cheese, as its milk fat content ranges from 60% to 75%.
Since mascarpone has a higher fat content than “American” cream cheese, mascarpone has a much richer, creamier taste.
Most of the mascarpone you find in grocery stores in the U.S. are also made in the U.S., although some imports can be found in specialty stores as well as online. This fresh cheese product does not keep for very long, so it is best to purchase it right before use.
Mascarpone originated during the Middle Ages in Lombardy, a region in the northern part of Italy with a rich dairy and agricultural heritage.
In the 1500s and 1600s, dairymen in the region became famous for selling fresh cheese curds, known as mascarpone.
The name “mascarpone” is popularly held to derive from mascarpa, an unrelated milk product made from the whey of stracchino (a young, barely aged cheese), or from mascarpia, a word in the local dialect for ricotta. Ricotta, unlike mascarpone, is made from milk and not cream.
It is also used in cheesecake recipes.