Where to buy mascarpone cheese?
Mascarpone can be found in most grocery stores amongst either the cream cheese or in the deli aisle. A soft cow’s cheese which is packaged into small white tubs and sold by 8oz and 14oz.
Store-bought mascarpone can be expensive or difficult to find depending on your location, instead follow our homemade mascarpone cheese recipe using just two simple ingredients to produce the luxurious mascarpone for yourself. An alternative process uses a bacteria culture within the warm cream to naturally ripen the mascarpone rather than adding an acid, producing a richer and creamier result.
What is mascarpone cheese used for?
Mascarpone originates in Northern Italy and is a popular ingredient throughout the region. The cheese is most famously used as a key ingredient in Italian tiramisu as well as other desserts such as torta caprese, mascarpone cake, cheesecake and fruit tarts. Mascarpone cheese recipes are generally desserts as the ingredient provides a smooth, creamy texture which pairs well with fruit and all things sweet.
There are still applications for mascarpone cheese within savoury recipes such as mascarpone based pizzas, cream sauce, mushroom pasta, risotto, mashed potatoes and savoury tarts. In savoury dishes mascarpone is best used as room temperature or stirring through a warm sauce at the end of cooking to maintain the cheeses richness and sweet flavour. Mascarpone can also be used as a substitute for a range of ingredients, such as when a recipe calls for whipped cream, cream cheese, creme fraiche or sour cream.
Is mascarpone cheese and cream cheese the same thing?
Mascarpone is classed as a form of cream cheese although the method and ingredients are different to standard American cream cheese. The essential differences are that mascarpone is made from a base of whole cream whereas cream cheese uses a base of milk. Another key difference is that mascarpone cheese is cream and acid which is simmered and then strained, while cream cheese is curdled milk which has been blended and then strained.
Mascarpone is a thicker, spreadable consistency with a creamier mouth-feel due to the high fat content which makes it so luxurious, although cream cheese can act as a replacement it is also tangier in flavour which shows that there are many differences between the two ingredients.
What can be used instead of mascarpone cheese?
In situations where a recipe calls for mascarpone cheese and you don’t have any available then don’t panic, there are many ingredients which can act as a suitable replacement. For most recipes the best substitute for mascarpone cheese is cream cheese, cream cheese provides a similar consistency, texture and flavour, so much so that the two ingredients are often thought to be the same.
Another alternative is plain Greek yoghurt which mimics the sweet, smooth and creamy properties of mascarpone cheese. Yoghurt is best used in dessert dishes which don’t require heat as high temperatures will cause the yoghurt to curdle or split. Depending on the recipe whipping cream and sour cream can also act as substitutes for mascarpone however both are a thinner consistency so better suited to sweet recipes.
The closest replacement to mimic the subtle sweetness of mascarpone would be a combination of two ingredients, cream cheese and whipping cream. Blending one cup of cream cheese together with ¼ cup of whipping cream creates a mixture which is almost identical to the sweet creamy texture and flavour of mascarpone cheese.