Start to Finish: 24 hours; about 30 minutes active
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Servings: Yields 1 quart
Mascarpone's fat content sets it apart from other fresh cheeses. Like Indian paneer and Mexican queso blanco, uncultured mascarpone relies on acid -- tartaric, citric or acetic -- to coagulate and thicken. Mascarpone requires few ingredients and uses a basic technique, making it a convenient introduction for the home cook making cheese for the first time.
- 1 quart heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon of tartaric acid
- Double boiler or 2 pots that nestle
- Instant-read digital thermometer
- Butter muslin or tight-weave heavy cheesecloth
- Mesh sieve
- Plastic wrap
Fill the bottom pot with a couple of inches of water and set the smaller pot inside it. Pour the cream in the upper pot.
Heat the double boiler on the stove over high heat. Monitor the temperature of the cream using the instant-read thermometer. When the cream reaches 185 degrees Fahrenheit, after about 15 minutes, take the double boiler off the stove.
Mix the tartaric acid with 1/4 teaspoon of water. Stir the tartaric-slurry acid into the cream. Continue stirring until the cream thickens, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Remove the saucepan of cream from the double boiler and set it aside for about 15 minutes.
Set the sieve over the mixing bowl. Line the sieve with the butter muslin and pour the cream into it. Let the cream stand until it reaches room temperature and cover it tightly with plastic wrap.
Place the straining cream in the refrigerator. Let the cream strain for 24 hours.
Scoop the mascarpone from the sieve after 24 hours and transfer it to an airtight container. Reserve the whey. Store mascarpone for up to three days.
- Ultra-high temperature pasteurized (UHT) cream won't coagulate. Use pasteurized cream.
- You can substitute 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for tartaric acid per quart of cream.
- Butter muslin and tight-weave cheesecloth work equally well for straining whey. Butter muslin, however, is sturdier, cleans more easily and lasts longer than cheesecloth.
- Keep aromatic or pungent foods wrapped tightly and away from the mascarpone when it's draining in the refrigerator. The fat in mascarpone absorbs the aromas of foods stored close to it.
- Use the reserved whey to adjust the consistency in cream soups, as a substitute for water in baked goods or as a protein-rich addition to smoothies.