Mascarpone: Printer Friendly Version!

Foolproof Mascarpone

Yield: about 2 pounds of mascarpone

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts Half and Half or Light Cream, pasteurized is preferred, but ultra-pasteurized will do, it just might take longer to do its thang.
  • 1 packet direct set Crème Fraîche culture (OR- 1/2 cup of room temperature buttermilk [less than a week old] mixed with 1/4 cup non-chlorinated room-temperature water and 1/8 teaspoon liquid vegetable rennet [or 1/8 of a tablet of vegetable rennet crushed and dissolved in the water].)

Necessary equipment:

  • a square, about 24-inches by 24-inches, of  Ultra Fine Cheesecloth(commonly called butter muslin)
  • a small instant read thermometer, available in the kitchenware departments at most department stores and big grocery stores.  If they sell spatulas, they usually sell these thermometers.  Also available at at Amazon.com.
  • a fine mesh, stainless steel strainer
  • 2-1/2 quart capacity saucepan with lid

Pour the Half and Half or Light Cream into the saucepan placed over low heat.  Warm gently to 86°F (this is lukewarm.)  When it reaches 86°F, remove the pan from the heat.  If you’ve gone slightly over temperature, don’t panic.  Simply stir a few times and cool it back down to 86°F before proceeding.

If using the packet of direct set culture, sprinkle it evenly over the top and allow it to rest for 1 minute.  If using the buttermilk/water/rennet mixture, pour into the warm cream and let it rest for 2 minutes.  After the resting time, gently whisk the cream for 2 minutes, or until the culture is completely dissolved.  Cover and let set in a warm place (about 72°F- give or take a few degrees) for 12-24 hours or until thick.  If you stop here, you’ve made Crème Fraîche.  But I’m talking mascarpone today…

To make Mascarpone of your Crème Fraîche requires just. one. more. step.  Transfer the Crème Fraîche to a fine-mesh strainer lined with dampened  fine mesh cheesecloth or dampened coffee filters.  Place the strainer over a bowl and allow to drain at room temperature for 6-12 hours, or until it reaches your desired consistency.  Voilà! Mascarpone!  At a fraction of the cost of store bought and a fraction of the fussiness of traditionally made mascarpone.

…But for comparison’s sake, I’ll share the traditional way to make it as well. While the traditional method appears easier, I have always found that I needed to fuss with it more.  I always have to scrape around the edge of the cheesecloth with a silicone spatula to help release some of the liquid.  I always find it has to drain significantly longer than the normal 12 hours.  And maybe, just maybe, I’m messing it up, but if I am, at least I’m consistent about it.  I’ll stick with the method that works for me.  Novel idea, I know.

If you prefer the traditional recipe, by all means, make it!  I’d love to hear from anyone who decides to try both. If you’re an old hand at making traditional mascarpone and you have some tips for me, please share them.  I’d really love to have two foolproof methods.

Traditional Mascarpone

Yield: About 2 pounds of mascarpone

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts Half and Half or Light Cream, pasteurized
  • 1/2- 3/4 teaspoon tartaric acid

Necessary equipment:

  • a square, about 24-inches by 24-inches, of  Ultra Fine Cheesecloth(commonly called butter muslin)
  • a small instant read thermometer, available in the kitchenware departments at most department stores and big grocery stores.  If they sell spatulas, they usually sell these thermometers.  Also available at at Amazon.com.
  • a fine mesh, stainless steel strainer
  • 2-1/2 quart capacity saucepan with lid

Add cold water to the bottom pan of a double boiler but not so much that the top pan floats.  Fit the top pan in place and add the cream.  Over medium heat, bring the cream up to 185°F. Sprinkle the tartaric acid over the top and stir for 5 minutes, maintaining 185°F.  The cream should thicken immediately.  Remove the top pan from the double boiler and stir for two additional minutes.

Transfer to a dampened ultra fine cheesecloth or dampened coffee filter lined fine-mesh strainer and allow to drain in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours or until it reaches the desired thickness.  This is very perishable and must be consumed within 48 hours of being made.