Mascarpone is an Italian cheese that is used in both sweet and savoury dishes. It is similar in flavour to cream but is much thicker and is used in many recipes including savoury dishes like risotto and pasta and as a finishing touch or component of a dessert.
There are two main ways I use mascarpone. The first is to mix it with double cream, vanilla and a little icing sugar and spread it over cakes, as a filling in pavlova or anywhere whipped cream would normally be used. However, my favourite way to use mascarpone is to flavour it and serve with desserts.
Some of the flavourings I frequently use include coffee, vanilla bean, chocolate, mint and lemon or lime (both the juice and the rind). When flavouring Mascarpone, start with a small amount of the flavouring ingredient, mix well and taste. Adjust based on the dessert and desired effect, like whether or not the mascarpone is part of the dish or just an accompaniment. Oh, and another good thing is that because it is firm, it's really easy to quinelle!
The following is a rough guide per 200g Mascarpone:
- Vanilla - 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Coffee - 1 double ristretto shot and 1/2 tbs icing sugar
- Chocolate - 50g melted chocolate
- Lemon or Lime - zest of 1/2 a lemon or 1 lime with 1/2 tbs juice
- Mint - 1 tbs finely chopped mint