You probably know mascarpone cheese as a key player in tiramisu, the chocolatey, espresso-infused layered Italian dessert. But it’s so much more than that. Make extra creamy scrambled eggs by stirring mascarpone cheese into the mixture or spread it on a piece of toast and top it with smoked salmon and chives.
But what exactly is mascarpone? And how is it different from sour cream, cream cheese, or crème fraîche. . . where is it? Mascarpone is essentially an Italian version of cream cheese, but with a slightly higher fat content; mascarpone should be 40% fat, while cream cheese only needs 33%. Cream cheese is also tangier than mascarpone, which tends towards the richer side of things. In fact, mascarpone most closely resembles French crème fraîche. Both are soured by lactic culture, but mascarpone is a bit sweeter and milder. This is why it is so important in sweet desserts; while sour creamfor example, can definitely add body and richness to cheesecake, coffee cakeand pound cakeit’s not exactly a flavor that most home bakers put front and center (except for this delicious Peach and Sour Cream Ice Cream by Alice Medrich).
All this to say that mascarpone is much more versatile than we think. It works great in both sweet and savory dishes. But occasionally, you may have trouble finding mascarpone in some grocery stores. Rather than abandon ship completely, take a look inside your refrigerator. Mascarpone cheese is surprisingly easy to make, so you don’t even have to go to a specialty grocery store to find it. In short, all you need to do is simmer heavy cream on the stovetop; add a little lemon juice and continue to heat for a few more minutes, then leave to cool. Strain it through cheesecloth and refrigerate overnight before using.
We know mascarpone cheese can transform sweet things like sorbet, carrot cake, lemon pie, cupcakes and fruit blintzes. But what about creamy pastas, risotto, soups and roasted vegetables? It turns out that mascarpone can also work wonders with savory recipes. Here are so many ways to take advantage of the ultra-creamy mascarpone to make your tasty meals surprisingly rich – with minimal effort (promise).
Our essential mascarpone cheese recipes
1. Rub it
Use mascarpone on a bagel instead of cream cheese for a next-level smoked salmon supreme, or spread it on scruffy rye toast to make open-faced sandwiches. Some topping suggestions:
- Smoked trout and marinated red onions
- Cucumbers, salt and sesame seeds
- Roasted or sautéed mushrooms (or any leftover roasted vegetables hanging in your fridge)
- Finely grated asparagus and lemon juice
2. Make soup
Add it freehand vegetable puree soups for maximum wealth with minimum labor. Good news: just a spoonful will go a long way here. Or use mascarpone as a creamy topping to cool the heat of Spicy tomato soup and add a creamy touch to summer gazpachos. Bonus: it looks super pretty when you spin it with your spoon.
3. Spread it
Spread it on pizza instead of tomato sauce, or drop small dollops on freshly baked za for creamy, melty pockets, much like the inside of burrata. May I suggest putting a few on one Daisy to make it more fancy, or spread it thinly over the dough and garnish with shaved summer squash and mint?
Mascarpone also works very well as a creamy layer in savory pies, particularly if these pies contain blistered vegetables like eggplant and zucchini and lots of herbs. Or juicy tomatoes. Or incorporate it into a gratin, especially if this gratin contains cauliflower or hearty greens. Just spread a little between the layers of vegetables with a spoon, or put a spoonful on top.
Add mascarpone to your scrambled eggs. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but this will make them incredibly rich and special, and so much better than your average Wednesday morning scramble, even if they don’t take extra time. Merrill Stubbs likes whisk the mascarpone into its eggs before scrambling them, but I like to add it halfway through the cooking time so I get pockets of mid-bite melty cheese. (Note: Melty Cheese Pockets would make a great group name.) If you fancy, you can also use a shot of mascarpone as a topping for An omeletespecially if there are already peas and chives or mint.
When tossed into risottos and pasta just before serving, mascarpone melts into the silkiest, most luxurious one-ingredient sauce. You can even stir a few spoonfuls to finish grains or polenta for an extra creamy touch. Try adding it to hazelnut cauliflower risottousing it instead of cream for a spring green pastaor incorporate it into your next making baked noodles.
I usually like to keep it simple, tossing pasta of my choice with olive oil, garlic and herbs in a pot with a little pasta water, maybe adding some vegetables. Once a shiny sauce develops, I add a few spoonfuls of mascarpone and let it melt, coating each noodle in a slightly sweet and nutty creamy sauce and just begging to be topped with more herbs. and a grating of parmesan. It is also excellent mixed in a simple tomato sauceand will stretch and improve a pesto like nobody’s business.
Savory recipes with mascarpone
Asparagus, well processed. This pasta dish — any short, curly shape will do — features a whole pound of greens. Lemony mascarpone melts into a sauce effortlessly, while toasted hazelnuts add bite.
Like a fresh fruit pie, but salty. Multi-colored heirloom tomatoes take center stage here, backed by a lush, creamy bed of mascarpone. Serve with Emerald Green Basil Oil on the side, so everyone can drizzle (and keep drizzling) while they eat.
A really good thing to do with your air fryer: Combine the mushrooms with the onion, garlic, cream and, of course, the mascarpone, then let the appliance do its magic. The result is a creamy, vegetarian pasta sauce to repeat whenever you need something cozy.
Is there anything more refreshing than a bowl of fresh soup on a hot summer day? We think not. This one is all about beets – as earthy a root vegetable as it gets. The mascarpone adds some much needed creaminess – the extra dollop on top is optional but, you know, not really.
More mascarpone sauce pasta with mushrooms because the combo is so good. This recipe relies on marsala, a fortified Italian wine that’s always happy to help with dinner. Do not hesitate to increase the parsley – its brightness is a windy respite from all the richness.
The sweet pears, salty prosciutto and strong red onion sound A++ on their own. But then you add a buttery, crumbly pie crust and mascarpone mixed with Herbes de Provence (an aromatic French spice blend often made with thyme, basil, rosemary, marjoram, and tarragon, depending on the recipe. ). Oh yes.