Today I opened our refrigerator to discover Mascarpone. My wife had planned to make some Mascarpone Filled Brownie Sandwiches for the holidays. In preparation, she purchased Tre Stelle Mascarpone cheese at Loblaws supermarket.
So what exactly is Mascarpone cheese? It is a fresh style cow’s milk cheese that originated in Italy. Well, technically it’s not cheese because it doesn’t use rennet or starter. It’s really clotted cream that has been acidulated to release its moisture. But let’s keep that detail between us. It is probably best known as the main ingredient of the popular Italian dessert Tiramisu.
According to Tre Stelle’s website, “Mascarpone is prepared in a similar fashion to Ricotta, but using cream instead of whole milk or whey. It is a soft white cheese with a smooth texture that is easily spread. It’s versatile enough to be blended with other flavours and is fast becoming a favourite in desserts and sauces, or served with fresh fruit.”
I think that’s a fine description … except for one small detail. It assumes you know how Ricotta cheese is made. So allow me to add a little more clarity here. To make Ricotta cheese – Heat whole milk to 180C, add acid (vinegar or lemon will do), wait for it to coagulate. Strain off the liquid then Viola! … you have Ricotta. Do the same process starting with cream and you get … Mascarpone.
Tre Stelle is a fifty year old Canadian cheese company that is very good at making Mascarpone. In 2011 Tre Stelle Mascarpone won “Champion” of the fresh cheese category at the Dairy Farmers of Canada Grand Prix Cheese Competition.
So what is inside that white plastic container? Removing the plastic freshness seal reveals a creamy white paste.
I stirred the cheese and stood a spoon in it to illustrate the density. It is thick but still easily spreadable.
What does Mascarpone taste like? It is rich, smooth, velvety and did I mention rich? It is sexed up Cream Cheese. It is a little sweeter, but not sugary. You can eat Mascarpone plain but I would recommend it as a spread on crackers, toast or a bagel. It is good with a fruit jam or fresh fruit. And, of course, it is a premium ingredient in frostings and desserts.
I should mention that this cheese is often mispronounced and misspelled Marscapone (Mars capone) instead of Mascarpone (Mas car po ne).
Even the folks at the Food Network mess it up sometimes.
Tre Stelle Mascarpone is good stuff. I’m sure it was a factor in my wife’s Mascarpone Filled Brownie Sandwiches turning out so delicious!