Mascarpone cheese is the rich, creamy filling between layers of ladyfinger cookies in tiramisu. This cheese is sold in specialty grocery stores, but not in all markets. Look in your refrigerator for more common substitutes for mascarpone cheese in tiramisu.
Crème fraiche is a high-fat French version of cultured sour cream. It is available in gourmet markets, but you can also make your own with a buttermilk starter. Warm 1 cup of heavy cream to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the cream to a bowl and stir in 1 tbsp. of cultured buttermilk. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot for 24 to 36 hours, stirring every eight hours. The finished crème fraiche should have a thick consistency but remain pourable. Store the finished crème fraiche in the refrigerator for up to one week. Homemade or store-bought crème fraiche replaces mascarpone in an equal amount in any recipe, including tiramisu.
Cream Cheese and Cream
The creamy, mild flavor of mascarpone cheese can be replicated with cream cheese. Avoid using reduced fat or low fat cream cheeses for the substitute. Even after mixed with heavy cream, lower fat cream cheese does not have enough fat in it to coat the tongue like mascarpone. The cooking website Chow recommends beating together 3/4 cup of regular cream cheese and 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream in a bowl and using this to replace each cup of mascarpone in tiramisu.
Ricotta cheese is an Italian cheese made from the skimmed whey of the milk instead of the curds. It is usually associated with its frequent use in lasagna, but it will also replace mascarpone cheese. Ricotta has a dry, uneven texture. The Cook’s Thesaurus website recommends whipping an equal amount of ricotta cheese to replace mascarpone cheese in tiramisu for a lower fat substitute. To more closely replicate the creaminess of mascarpone cheese with ricotta, the OChef website suggests blending 1 cup of heavy whipping cream into 8 oz. of ricotta cheese to replace 16 oz. of mascarpone cheese.
Cream Cheese and Butter
The high fat content in mascarpone cheese gives it a “buttery” flavor. To create this, beat an 8 oz. block of softened cream cheese with 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream, the website Gourmet Sleuth recommends. The fats from the butter, cream cheese and cream combine to mimic the rich, creamy texture and buttery flavor of mascarpone cheese.
References and ResourcesHeavenly Tiramisu: Mascarpone Cheese
Gourmet Sleuth: Mascarpone Cheese
Chow: Chow.com Ingredient Substitution List
Joy of Baking; Creme Fraiche Recipe; Stephanie Jawoski
OChef: Is There a Substitute for Mascarpone?
Cook's Thesaurus: Fresh Cheeses