Tiramisus and cheesecakes are always delightful to have for family celebrations; they're not too sweet but still tickle your taste buds in just the right way after eating a satisfying main course. Sometimes, we even enjoy having them as snacks because they just have that certain appeal and flavor that can satisfy and cheer you up.
If you’re planning on crafting these two delights in your own kitchen, you might need to have Mascarpone on hand. In this article, you will learn the role of Mascarpone cheese in various recipes and how you can substitute it once you run out of supply.
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What is Mascarpone?
Mascarpone cheese might sound like a complicated type of cheese, but it's actually pretty simple. It's a combination of whole cream and citric acid, or tartaric acid. The acidic ingredient makes the cream thicker, which is an important characteristic of Mascarpone Cheese.
This kind of cheese is popular in Italian dishes and is also known for having a smooth texture. There are absolutely no lumps when you use a Mascarpone cheese. As for the taste, a lot of people love it because it has a milky flavor with a slightly sweet twist and a tangy taste. You will also notice its buttery flavor, which is a result of its butterfat content. This can range from 60-75 percent.
As for the storage, you’ll have to keep in mind that Mascarpone can spoil too easily, so keep it in a clean and open container. As much as possible, consume the cheese within a few days so that you won’t accidentally put bad Mascarpone in your recipes.
One of the things that you might be concerned about is where you can buy this ingredient. Well, Mascarpone is a popular ingredient, especially for Italian dishes, so you can find it easily in most supermarkets' dairy sections.
Mascarpone is also great if you’re a vegetarian since this type of cheese doesn’t use rennet. This is an ingredient that most vegetarians avoid. Luckily, omnivores and vegetarians alike can enjoy Mascarpone because it uses acidic ingredients such as lemon or tartaric acid instead.
Lastly, the origins of Mascarpone cheese can be traced back to the Renaissance period, in the Italian region of Lombardy. While there are several theories about why this type of cheese is named "Mascarpone," there is still no clear story about it.
When you have this dairy product in your kitchen, you can either use it for desserts or for savory dishes, so it's really an all-around product.
Mascarpone Vs. Cream Cheese
A lot of people might be confused between mascarpone and cream cheese. Both of these dairy products taste good and have that smooth texture. But, they are not the same. First of all, these two kinds of cheese have different origins. As discussed in the first part of the article, mascarpone originates from Lombardy, Italy. On the other hand, cream cheese is made in America, which is also why we see it in so many American dishes.
Another noticeable difference is the fat content of the two products. According to American law, cream cheese can have at least 33% milk fat and a maximum of 55% moisture. This makes mascarpone stand out in the fact that it is made of the whole cream and has a higher fat content. You can use these two products interchangeably, but it would depend on the flavor that you are trying to achieve.
Whipped Low-fat Ricotta
Whipped low-fat ricotta cheese is a brilliant substitute for mascarpone cheese if you want to maintain the flavor of mascarpone. In addition, this variant of ricotta is lower in calorie content and fat content, so it's better for your health too!
Despite the fact that ricotta is a thicker cheese compared to mascarpone in its natural state, ricotta can also be creamy and light just like mascarpone is when beaten. In fact, ricotta cheese is used by many people in many different dishes and sauces.
Just like mascarpone, ricotta cheese also originated in Italy. This cheese is traditionally made from the leftover whey of Mozzarella and Provolone cheese, made from goat, sheep, cow, or Italian water buffalo milk. Since it is made from leftovers, its name can also be translated as "re-cooked."
There are also available low-fat ricotta cheeses made from pasteurized milk with the addition of organic salt. It is important to remember that ricotta tends to have a strong flavor, but it is also creamier, giving it a smooth, pleasant texture.
This cheese is also packed with essential nutrients to help keep your body healthy. It is rich in protein and packed with carbohydrates, making it a great source of energy. It also contains several vitamins and minerals such as zinc, vitamin B12, selenium, vitamin A, phosphorus, and riboflavin.
Just like any other dairy products, ricotta is a rich source of calcium that can fulfil about 52 percent of your daily calcium needs in just a cup serving. Most importantly, this cheese contains good fats that can help you reduce the risk of heart-related diseases.
Cream cheese is actually a cheese that was created in 1872 by Americans in New York. It is a fresh cheese that doesn’t undergo the process of aging. In modern times, it is more widely known as Kraft Philly Cheese because of the enterprise that started producing this cheese, named Philadelphia. It was later bought by Kraft Foods in 1928, coining the name Kraft Philly Cheese, and it has been the most famous brand of cream cheese in America ever since.
Just like French Neufchatel, cream cheese is produced from the milk of cows, but the major difference is that cream cheese is not ripened, has a longer storage life, and is firmer because of the emulsifiers it contains. A standard cream cheese under the law of the United States Department of Agriculture must contain a maximum of 55 percent water and a minimum of 33 percent fat.
However, nowadays there are many variants of this cream that have a low amount of fat or no fat content at all, making these variants a great mascarpone substitute when you're trying to maintain a healthier diet.
Just like ricotta, cream cheese also closely resembles the flavor of mascarpone. It also has a lower calorie content and fat content, which is especially notable if you are health conscious with your diet. Cream cheese is also rather similar to ricotta, meaning it can make a great substitute in ricotta recipes as well as mascarpone recipes.
Neufchatel cream cheese tends to have a lighter texture and will leave your dish with a creamier finish than mascarpone can bring to the table. Cream cheese also makes a great case on being an alternative to mascarpone. However, there are certain cases where the two are not interchangeable, such as in dishes like Tiramisu.
Low-Fat Greek Yogurt
If you want a fresh cheese replacement in place of your mascarpone cheese, then Greek yogurt is undoubtedly the best option for you. Greek yogurt is often a great choice for fruit bowls and dessert recipes. Moreover, did you know that its name was not really coined because it came from Greece? Don’t worry; you’re not the only one wondering why it was named as such. Greek yogurt is one of the best ingredients to use if you want your dish to finish off with that perfect creamy texture.
Originating somewhere in the Middle East, Greek yogurt was not a common ingredient in the United States in the past. However, due to a very different method in manufacturing this yogurt compared with the traditional American yogurt, this product has drawn a lot of attention in the US, and it has become a trend as time has gone by. It is also packed with nutrients like protein, vitamin B-12, probiotics, and potassium. Each has different health benefits that it can bring to the body, such as blood pressure regulation and so on.
Another plus side to this awesome substitute is that it is very affordable and can easily be found in many stores. The creamy and smooth consistency of this yogurt along with its neutral flavor makes it a wonderful alternative for mascarpone in plenty of dishes. If you want to achieve a very rich dish, you can also try mixing plain low-fat Greek yogurt with mascarpone cheese rather than using 100% Greek yogurt.
Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese, also known as Dutch cheese, was traditionally made from the leftover milk cottages that were used in the making of butter. Hence, the name cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is a soft type of fresh cheese, and its texture is believed to come from the skimmed milk it is made from. This cheese was once very popular in the country of America, but as time went by it became less widely marketed and therefore lost some of its popularity. Later on, the prominence of cheese manufacturers began to rise, and cottage cheese became almost irrelevant due to its lack of marketing and advertising.
In using cottage cheese, you should know about the two existing variants of this cheese. First up is dry cottage cheese. This version of cottage cheese is the sweet tasting version. The distinct, sweet flavor of this cheese comes from its rinsed curds.It is also a great option for people who are lactose intolerant because fermentation breaks down all of the lactose content that this cheese contains.
Now let's move on to the second variant: wet cottage cheese. This cheese features a mixture of curds and is a richer version of cottage cheese because of its additional creamy dressing.
Low-fat cottage cheese is the best alternative for mascarpone if you're making a dish wherein achieving the same texture of mascarpone isn't important to you. Though this cheese is mild in flavor and moist, it doesn't have the consistency of the more custardy mascarpone.
It's best to use this as a substitute in dishes where mascarpone is not the foundation of the ingredients, but used for its delicious flavor. The low-fat cottage isn't too dense in terms of calories, plus it contains more protein and less fat compared mascarpone, making it an all-round healthier choice.
English Clotted Cream
Clotted cream is to British people what apple pie is to Americans: a dessert classic. It is a yellow cream with a silky texture and a distinctive crust on the surface. This cream is made from heated cow’s milk that is unpasteurized in a shallow pan for several hours. The cream will rise to the surface, thicken and clot. Hence, the name clotted cream. The thick cream is then skimmed off the top before serving along with summer berries, tea, or scones. Clotted cream has quite a firm crust and below it is a delicious, thick, and smooth yellow-colored cream. This cream is composed of 55 percent butterfat.
This cream originates from Devon and Cornwall, both of which are located in the southwest corner of England. However, Yorkshire also makes great clotted cream. A good example of Yorkshire's finest clotted cream is that of Stamfrey Farm, which is located in Yorkshire. Stamfrey Farm has gained several awards for its delicious clotted cream.
In terms of nutritional content, you might want to keep in mind that clotted cream is composed of around 55 to 60 percent fat. Sitting at around 15 grams of fat per ounce, clotted cream can quickly take up much of your daily recommended fat intake, which is around 44 to 77 grams per day in a 2000-calorie diet. However, on the plus side, clotted cream contains protein, carbohydrates, and vitamin A that can produce positive benefits for your body.
French Crème Fraiche
Crème Fraiche, which is pronounced as “Krem Fresh," is oftentimes confused with sour cream. Actually, it can be described as another version of sour cream, but the major difference is that it contains a greater fat content than sour cream.
That being said, some people prefer using this in cooking rather than sour cream because it also has less chance of curdling when simmered. Crème Fraiche is also similar to sour cream in its appearance, differing only in the fact that it is visibly thicker, while its flavor is richer and less tangy compared to sour cream. This ingredient is a staple in many parts of Europe, but a non-native dairy product in the United States.
Crème Fraiche is usually spooned over cooked veggies or fresh fruits. It can also make a great garnish for different kinds of soups. Moreover, crème Fraiche is can be the perfect alternative for almost any recipe that uses either sour cream or mascarpone cheese. In fact, mascarpone cheese is like the Italian version of crème Fraiche; both are soured, but mascarpone is a bit sweeter and milder compared to crème Fraiche.
If you’re health conscious and looking for a healthy substitute for mascarpone cheese, unfortunately this substitute might not be the one for you. Crème Fraiche has very few health benefits besides being low in carbohydrates.
Although there are versions that contain probiotics, it is not advisable to consume this on a regular basis or in large amounts because of its high-fat content, which can pose health risks.
Mascarpone cheese is an amazing and versatile ingredient that you can use in many delicious dishes. However, let this serve as a reminder to always keep the nutritional content of your daily meals in check. There are plenty of possible options you could use for mascarpone, but it is still important to use the healthiest possible alternative, like low-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, both of which are lighter in calories and fat.
It is not always bad to satisfy our cravings and make our tastebuds happy from time to time, but always keep in mind that excess of anything could be potentially bad for your future health. So if you want to keep enjoying this delicious and spectacular food, always keep everything in balance; just as all things should be.