An Honorary Mention: Mascarpone

The Cheesemonger

Although it's not a cheese in the strict understanding of the word, mascarpone often falls within the realm of cheese scholarship. So perhaps no better than a Cheesemonger report to give it some air time and sing its praise: it's creamier than cream, silkier than ricotta, and richer than your favorite triple creme. Click through for a brief primer and a roundup of some delicious, make-worthy recipes.

Mascarpone (pronounced "mass-car-pone-aye") starts with fresh cream, which is then acidified, most commonly, tartaric acid, found in grapes and in spent wine barrels... which could actually explain mascarpone's Italian (Lombardian, to be exact) origins! Like ricotta, you can also acidify the milk with vinegar or lemon juice. The whey is then strained, and mascarpone, in all its endlessly creamy goodness, is left behind.

It's actually pretty easy to make at home, and one recipe can be found at playingwithfireandwater.com, who provided us with a great photo for this post, too.

Since it's made from cream rather than milk, mascarpone is richer and more buttery than any cream cheese, yogurt, or ricotta. The consistency is much like cream cheese, but with a (misleadingly) lighter, smoother texture.

We hope you'll be surprised at how many savory things you can make with mascarpone. Known best, perhaps, for its leading role in tiramisu, we think it's been a bit typecast. According to The Oxford Companion to Italian Food by Gillian Riley, one traditional Lombardian recipe calls for a pot-roasted pheasant stuffed with mascarpone and slices of white truffles!

Some Kitchn Recipes:

Other Web Recipes:

Related: Kitchen Challenge: Tiramisu Tips and Help?

(Image: playingwithfireandwater.com)

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Nora Singley used to be a cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop. Until recently she was a TV Chef on The Martha Stewart Show. She is currently a freelance food stylist and recipe developer in New York.