Mascarpone is triple cream cheese, made from cow’s milk and it comes from the Lombardy region in Southern Italy. It is also known as curd cheese, since it is produced similar as Yogurt. The typical texture of the cheese can vary from very soft like the crème fraîche, to more firm state like the butter. This depends on the process which was adapted during the cheese making process. The cheese has a milky white color and it can be spread easily. The Mascarpone is often considered as a substitute for Butter or Parmesan cheese. The Mascarpone cheese is made with cream, lemon juice or, tartaric or citric acid. The aging process of the Mascarpone takes just few days. It is also noticed that the dairy farms which produce the cheese provide their cows with special grasses that includes fresh herbs and flowers. This special feed gives in return provides freshness and a unique taste to the milk that gives the cheese its creamy texture and softness. The Mascarpone cheese is used as an ingredient in most of the Italian cuisine.
History of Mascarpone
Mascarpone is believed to have originated between the Lodi and Abbiategrasso regions of Italy during the late 16th and early 17th century. There are various claims regarding the cheese getting its name. One of the noted factors is that, Mascarpone has been believed to have got the name from the Spanish word ‘mas que bueno’ which means ‘better than good’, as a part of the Spanish rule in Italy. The cheese is also thought to have got its name from ‘mascarpa’, a milk product which is made from the whey of ‘stracchino’ or short aged cheese. It is also believed that the word Mascarpone has derived from ‘mascarpia’, which means Ricotta in the local Italian dialect. The cheese has been originated as a byproduct of various other cheeses.
Culinary uses of Mascarpone
Mascarpone cheese is widely used in most of the Italian cuisines and the most famous dish is Tiramisu, a layered dish with mascarpone cheese, espresso, brandy, ladyfingers, and chocolate. The cheese is used in the making of Zabaglione, a form of Italian custard. The Mascarpone cheese is considered as a main ingredient in most of the Italian desserts and puddings as it is used to make frostings and cream. The cheese is put as a filling in Cheese cakes and Tarts. It is a main ingredient in the making of Pasta sauces, since Mascarpone adds a distinct flavor to the sauce. Mascarpone cheese is also used as dip, topping, and also act as a substitute for cream. Since the cheese is easily spreadable, it is used instead of butter and margarine. The cheese is used in savories and also added to a risotto to enrich the thickness and flavor. Most of the Italians also enjoy this cheese spread along with mustard, anchovies, and herbs.
Preferable preparing format of Mascarpone
To prepare the Mascarpone cheese, Tartaric acid is required to curdle the cream. Once the culture is being added to the curd, the cream is heated gently for some time. The curd is strained and separated from the cream and then the curd is allowed to come to room temperature. It is then refrigerated to cool, mature, and thicken. The cheese needs to be refrigerated for a minimum of 24 hours. This forms a whitish to straw-yellow color, and gives a creamy and mild fresh cheese. The Mascarpone is compact, supple, and spreadable. It is added as an ingredient to most of the Italian desserts and also served with cognac. The aging and the maturing process of the Mascarpone cheese takes less time when compared to most other cheeses.
The Mascarpone cheese is mostly prepared during the autumn season and winter since it can be consumed immediately. One of the unique aspect of the cheese is it can be sold as soon as the processing is over. The cheese can stay up to a span of 1 week if it is refrigerated properly.
Nutritive value of Mascarpone
· A traditional Mascarpone can consist nearly 200 calories per 57 grams. It has about 71% saturated fat, 31% normal fat, and 3% protein.
· The cheese also has high levels of cholesterol and has nearly 27% cholesterol per 57 grams.