I’ve gotten so many questions about mascarpone lately (all those peaches need a partner, perhaps?) I wanted to repost this one. And if you’re excited to get more into home dairy this Fall, I’ve got a class coming up, too. Just scroll down for more information.
When it comes to simple home dairy, it can be easy to think of each recipe as a separate entity that stands alone. But really, most recipes are slight variations of others, and it’s the small details that might lead you to one cheese or another. If you know how to make yogurt, you’re not that far off from cream cheese. If you’ve made cultured buttermilk, you can make creme fraiche. Feta and Chèvre and close cousins, and, strange as it might seem, homemade ricotta is similar to mascarpone.
If you have a basic understanding of the science, as well as a few techniques and recipes under your belt, the world opens up. (The world of cheese at least. Although I have known it to take me to other places, so you never know.)
Next month, I’ll be teaching 2 back-to-back cheese workshops with Margaret Roach in Copake Falls, NY–one on September 26 and the other on September 27. These will be hands-on, hanging out in the kitchen workshops, and you’ll leave with everything you need (both knowledge and materials) to make yogurt, feta, creme fraiche, mozzarella, ricotta, cream cheese, and more at home. There will be plenty of time for questions and talking about the science of it all, and we can even troubleshoot any issues you might have had with home dairy in the past. We’ve done these classes a bunch of times over the last year, and they’ve been so much fun. We send everyone home with the full confidence to go it alone, experiment with new cheeses and dairy products, and even help friends to start making cheese. And the best part is that it all happens in one of my favorite places to cook these days, Margaret Roach’s cozy and beautiful teaching space. Also, breakfast! Lunch! Treats! There are a few more spaces in each class, so pick the day that works for you. I’d love to see you there. Tickets are available right here.
Both homemade ricotta and mascarpone are uncultured–that is, they are only the result of dairy, acid, and heat. There’s no live culture that transforms the dairy. This makes them some of the simplest home dairy recipes, and it also means you probably have the ingredients ready to go in the fridge.
Macarpone is often described as a close cousin to cream cheese, but really I think it’s more like a thicker creme fraiche or even whipped cream. Because it’s not cultured, it doesn’t have a lot of flavor on its own, but the texture is great for frostings and other sweets. It’s wonderful mixed with a little maple syrup over berries, and it’s also good in savory dishes- especially with pasta. Mascarpone is also outrageously expensive at the grocery store, so it’s a good one to make at home. It uses only two ingredients: heavy cream and an acid, and the acid can be lemon juice, citric acid, or tartaric acid (this is NOT cream of tartar, but it’s available from wine and cheese making supply shops). I often end up just using lemon juice, as that’s what I have on hand.
The Simplest Homemade Mascarpone
makes about 3/4 pound
2 cups pasteurized (but not ultra pasteurized) heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. Heat the cream over medium heat until it reaches 190°F. (If you’re working without a thermometer, this is just a bit before it boils. But buy a thermometer! You’ll be glad you did.)
2. Remove the pot from heat, and stir in the lemon juice. Return the pot to the heat and continue to stir until the cream comes back up to 190°F and the mixture has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pot from heat, cover the pot, and let it cool to room temperature. Then transfer the pot to the fridge to cool completely. It should sit for 2 to 3 hours total.
3. Line a thin-meshed strainer with a double layer of clean, damp cheesecloth or butter muslin. Set it over a jar or bowl to catch the whey. Pour the thickened cream into the strainer, and let it drain in the refrigerator until thick, about 6 hours. Overnight is okay, too. Transfer the mascarpone to a covered container and store in the fridge. There probably won’t be too much whey (1/3 cup at most) but save it and add it to scrambled eggs, quiche, or a bread recipe.
Use homemade mascarpone within 3 days.
Alana, you are my hero!!! My husband (who’s from Italy) has requested tiramisu for our Thanksgiving dessert this year, and the price of mascarpone was giving me second thoughts about promising to make it. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, and what great timing!!!
Hi, do you think that 35% whipping cream would be be good to use as heavy cream? I use it for butter, ricotta, add it to yoghurt so I assume that it might be good for this?!
Definately going to try this thanks!
Hi Carla, Although I haven’t made it with whipping cream, I think it should work just fine. The difference in fat content is so small (35% vs. 38%)- it shouldn’t make a difference. However, I just want to point out for any one else looking through the comments in the future- light whipping cream (at only 30% fat content) isn’t a good option.
Margo, Thrift at Home says
Cool. I’ve made ricotta before -SO EASY – and this looks like almost the same technique with cream instead of milk. There’s just so much whey with the ricotta process that I have to consider I’m going to get 2 products in the end.
I got behind, somehow, and missed the contest. But this seems a good spot to share my discomfort* with “home dairy” (as well as all that other kitchen-mystery).
*The word “fear” doesn’t sit well with me, so I’ve substituted it. I know that you understand.
Tonight I had a terrible cookie mishap. My “skills” are not improving. But my attitude about the disaster is. And maybe, right now, that’s what counts.
I’d be signed up for your class in a hot minute, if we were only miles (and miles!) closer.
You keep me from losing hope. For that, I will never be able to thank you enough. (And my candles are lit, FYI.)
Discomfort. Yes, yes. I’ll stand with you on the word. I like “challenge” too. Happy to let go of the fear altogether if we can just find the right words…
I made this today and it didn’t work for me. I’m fairly sure it was my fault because I only had ultra-pasteurized cream on hand. I ended up with lovely lemon-scented cream, but no whey and curds formed. Would using ultra-pasturized cream prevent it from forming curds?
Yes, ultra-pasteurized cream might be the culprit! Or did you us a lighter fat whipping cream? That could also do it.
Love the idea of using your jam funnel to strain the marscapone, brilliant! Cheers, Theresa
I actually have some tartaric acid from making cordial, how much would I use compared to the lemon juice?
I haven’t experimented too much with tartaric acid, but this looks like a good outline for the switch-out: http://www.cheesemaking.com/Mascarpone.html
Greg Thompson says
Hi everyone I have made my first batch of mascarpone cheese, it failed. I cooked 35% cream to 185 F put it in the fridge and it is a thick consistency like batter.
My question is:
Can i reheat add more lemon juice and rechill it? If not what can I do with the failed batch in the fridge.
Hi Greg, I haven’t had this experience, so I’m not sure how to troubleshoot. But if anyone has had this happen, please chime in!