Before we get to the homemade mascarpone recipe, let’s first be clear about what exactly mascarpone is. It is a rich, creamy, knee-wobblingly luscious fresh cow milk cheese from Italy that’s perhaps most commonly experienced stateside in tiramisu. This recipe makes a sorta cheater’s stand-in for proper Italian mascarpone that we guarantee will impress even your fussiest friends. (Not that we recommend trying to impress fussy people. Life is too darn short for that crap.)–Renee Schettler Rossi
LC What To Do With Your Mascarpone Note
Not only is this homemade mascarpone recipe ridiculously indulgent, it’s easy as heck to make. And—yes, there’s more!—it’s an insanely satiating way to salvage the last dregs of heavy cream languishing in the fridge. Just add a bit of lemon juice to the cream and you’ve got homemade mascarpone. Works like a charm. Honestly? There’s nothing we can think of that isn’t made more charming by a dollop of mascarpone. Read on for some things we’ve done with mascarpone lately.
Plop atop a bowl of in-season berries.
Slather on a peach half, sprinkle with light brown sugar, and broil until bubbly.
Stir in a little marsala or tawny port and serve with fresh figs.
Cram it inside pitted dates, roast for 5 minutes in a 425°F (218°C) oven, and sprinkle with coarse salt and olive oil.
Fold it into lemon curd and use as pie filling,
- Candy or deep-fry thermometer; cheesecloth or flour sack towel (optional)
- 2 cups heavy cream (non-homogenized pasteurized cream is best)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Fine sea salt
- In a small nonreactive saucepan over medium-low heat, gently bring the cream to the point where bubbles just begin to appear. (This could take as long as 25 minutes.) Do not allow the mixture to boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the lemon juice and salt, and gently simmer the cream for 5 to 7 minutes as you maintain a temperature of 185°F (85°C). Remove from the heat, cover, and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and line it with a double thickness of damp cheesecloth, a flour sack towel doubled over itself, a couple paper coffee filters, or a double layer of thick, damp paper towels. Without stirring, gently tip the cream into the lined sieve, letting everything run into the bowl below. Sprinkle a small pinch salt over the cream. Cover and refrigerate the bowl-and-sieve contraption for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. The mixture will slowly yet surely turn into a rich, creamy, velvety smooth concoction that seems a lot like softened cream cheese and is, in fact, nearly identical to actual mascarpone that’s made and cultured in Italy.
- Remove the mascarpone from the sieve by lifting the cheesecloth or flour sack towel or coffee filters or paper towels by the corners and twisting them to form a packet. Discard the whey, which is the liquidy stuff in the bowl. Mascarpone will keep, wrapped in the cheesecloth in a covered glass or ceramic bowl in the fridge, for up to 2 weeks. Wipe away any collected whey in the bottom of the dish daily to keep the cheese fresh.
Small Batch Homemade Mascarpone VariationAnxious about having an entire batch of homemade mascarpone on hand with no one standing between you and the fridge? Frustrated that someone used some of the heavy cream you were saving for this recipe in their coffee? Not to worry. You can make a mere fraction of this recipe. Simple get out your pen and paper and your 4th-grade math skills and figure out the proper amounts. It’ll work just fine.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
We may never buy mascarpone again. This homemade mascarpone recipe was so easy to follow, and the timing was accurate. We tasted the cream after 8 hours, and the edges were set and very thick while the center was still a bit wobbly. Both were delicious. After 24 hours, most of the cream was firmly set. This mascarpone was deemed “a winner” by all our taste-tasters. Everyone tasted the mascarpone plain and then as a topping for buttered baked pears. “Yumms,” “mmmms,” and “ahhhhs” were heard by the plenty. We used damp, double-thick, heavy-duty paper towels instead of cheesecloth, and the damp paper easily peeled away from the cream.
This is an easy recipe that produces rich, delicious, creamy homemade mascarpone that really is very comparable to what you buy—and can pay a lot more for—at the store. I took the temperature of the cream as soon as there were bubbles around the edges but before the cream was fully boiling, and it had a temperature of around 185°F. The recipe does not specify how much salt to add. This allows for a lot of error. I added a small pinch, about 1/2 teaspoon maybe, and that was good. I used regular ultra-homogenized cream since that’s what I had on hand, and the non-homogenized stuff is almost impossible to find. The yield was pretty good, and very little whey was produced (maybe about 1/4 cup after 8 hours draining). I served the mascarpone with strawberries, agave syrup, cocoa nibs, and crumbled lemon scones.
OMG, I made mascarpone, and it was so easy! Who knew that this normally EXPENSIVE item could be so easily made at home! I’ll admit that I wondered if homemade mascarpone would taste as good and work as well as store-bought, and I’m glad to say that it is just as good! Plus you get the personal gratification of saying that you made it. This stuff is so creamy and lovely and definitely something that I’ll be enjoying lots. The recipe is really straightforward and relies on a similar process to making homemade ricotta; however, with the mascarpone you leave the cream and lemon juice to sit a bit longer before straining it. I actually never buy cheesecloth, I simply use 2 coffee filters for straining, and it works just fine. The really nice thing about this recipe is that it’s made with things that you generally have on hand—no specialty ingredients necessary. I definitely have plans for this mascarpone, and now that I can make it so easily, I’m going to find new and exciting ways to use it. My first use will probably be for some frosting for cupcakes. I also plan to spread it on some toast with honey and nuts.
Purists may quibble that mascarpone should be cultured, as opposed to just curdled with lemon, but I’d challenge anyone not to fall head over heels in love with this simple, rich, delicious, creamy, lovely, smooth version of the fresh Italian cheese. This recipe is so easy, forgiving, and impressive—imagine brunch with scones or bagels and a mascarpone spread, perhaps topped with some berries, or with the berries stirred in, or a simple dessert with grilled stone fruit and a nice fat blob of homemade mascarpone atop. I was not prepared for how wonderful it would be and did not purchase berries or stone fruit to play with. Instead, I tried it on a spoon. So good! With fruit, it can only get better! And now, a few technical notes. The less processed the heavy cream, the better it will work, and the higher the possibility of success. I used an ultra-pasteurized organic, and it worked just fine. If the cream doesn’t start to thicken, it is possible to add more lemon juice and try again. Often this will do the trick if the first attempt doesn’t work. I simmered the cream and lemon for 5 minutes and then set it aside for 30 minutes, as directed. I think it could simmer a little less or a little more and still be just fine. Similarly, the 30 minutes could easily be a bit shorter or longer. I stretched out my overnight refrigeration time as well due to my work schedule. I refrigerated it for nearly 24 hours without any adverse effect. I was concerned my cheese would have thickened too much, but not only was there very little whey, the cheese was the perfect thick consistency, just like cream cheese! I confess to being a little leery that a fresh cheese like this would keep for a full 2 weeks, and as it turned out, it would take a lot of effort for me to find out, as the cup of cheese I made will be long gone before reaching anywhere near 2 weeks. One final note: This recipe could easily be halved if the goal is to use up leftover heavy cream.
This homemade mascarpone recipe is a very simple and foolproof way of making homemade mascarpone. (Making it was very similar to making homemade paneer, except you don’t stir very much in this recipe.) I left it to sit in the refrigerator for 8 hours. It made a very creamy, smooth, sweet, and salty cheese. I slathered some on a piece of toasted raisin bread and topped it with my own apricot preserves for a yummy breakfast treat.
This homemade mascarpone recipe works as written. Bringing the cream to a boil will scorch it, so it is necessary to use a thermometer to monitor the temperature and sneak up on it. It took about 10 minutes on my electric range. The curd is slow to develop, so I left it in the fridge overnight. I like tea towels or flour sack towels to drain rather then cheesecloth. For the second go round, I doubled the recipe and made a few procedural changes. I used 16 ounces heavy cream and 16 ounces half-and-half. The purpose was to reduce the fat content a bit to around 25%. I heated the cream in a double boiler to better maintain temperature, and it took about 25 minutes, after which I added the lemon juice and maintained it for 5 minutes. Gently stirring twice I noticed a curd developing. I removed it from the heat and let it cool 30 minutes (no peeking, please). I placed the covered pot in the fridge overnight—actually, it ended up being refrigerated for part of the next day. It ended up being about 18 hours. I thought it was going to be bad but continued anyway because I wanted tiramisu. So I just dumped everything in a flour sack towel placed in a colander and hung it a bit to drain while tightening and wringing it out. I then hung it in the fridge over a small bowl to drain further till the next day. My yield was right at 2 cups and was just like it should be—soft, creamy, and the consistency of softened cream cheese. Although it seems like a lot of work, it’s all waiting time; the total hands-on time is about an hour. I took a couple shortcuts, but this is overall a good recipe to start with. I did make the noted changes based on my experience making cheeses. I used this for tiramisu, but it can be used in beef stroganoff, on fruits, etc. My preference is eating it cold with a spoon like ice cream with a little chocolate sauce on top.
Originally published May 31, 2015