Treading the line between cheese and cream is mascarpone. It’s a curdled cream product that uses techniques common in making ricotta and labneh.
It’s a vital ingredient in tiramisu also delicious paired with fruit or accompanying a tart. It’s really simple to make at home, so next time you need a lot of it and have a night to spare, try this recipe.
All you need to do is bring some cream to a simmer, add lemon juice, then strain like you would labneh. The result is thick and spoonable with a signature fine-grain appearance and a very slight tang.
A couple of things to note before you dive in, don’t worry if the cream is quite runny before it gets strained, it will firm up a lot – mine was like liquid when it was warm and came out so stiff I could pick it up in one piece.
You’ll also need a good straining cloth that will hold the runny liquid. I used a clean tea towel, but it left a few fibres behind. You could use Chux or cheesecloth but make sure you layer it liberally, so the cream doesn’t just run through.
How to make mascarpone
Take 2 cups of pouring or thickened cream and bring to a simmer in a small pot on the stove, stirring so it doesn’t burn. Add the juice of half a small lemon and stir, simmering for a few minutes. It should thicken slightly.
Set aside to cool slightly and prepare a cloth-lined sieve over a bowl. Leave enough overhang to fold the edges over the top.
Pour the cooled cream into the cloth-lined sieve and fold over the edges, or tie them together into a bundle – this will stop it drying out too much.
Place the whole thing in the fridge overnight to strain. If it’s not firm enough, just leave it a couple of hours longer. You should end up with about 1 ¼ cups.
Remove mascarpone from the cloth and place in an airtight container. Refrigerate and use within 5 days.
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This Italian classic is creamy, delicious and coffee-spiked. I haven’t met anyone who doesn't love tiramisu with a passion!
The mascarpone gives the cake a creamy density and moistness and a beautiful zest when mixed with the lemon.