Just what is Mascarpone cheese?

Being from the Chicago area, I had the luxury of growing up amongst Italians. Italian grandmothers, in fact, are part of the reason I had a weight problem as a boy. Because let’s face it, Italian-American food is what every kid loves to eat. It’s flavorful, it’s fatty, it’s starchy, it’s consumed with joyous abandon, and it’s followed up with a heap of amaretti cookies.

Mascarpone (mass-car-PONE) cheese is an excellent exemplar of Italian cuisine at its most outrageous, for it is one of the fattiest cheeses you’ll ever eat. Whereas similar soft cheeses like cream cheese and ricotta are made with milk or whey, giving them a substantial water content, mascarpone is basically congealed cream. Which is why it’s so amazingly good.

Mascarpone is perhaps the easiest of all cheeses to make at home. It involves nothing more than cream, a small amount of acid (lemon juice or cream of tartar [tartaric acid]) and a little time. Yes you’ll need a little cheese cloth and some pots and pans and such but we’ll get to that. If you’ve never fancied yourself a cheese maker before, your self image may be about to change.

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