Mascarpone originated in the Lombardy region of Italy, between the 16th and 17th centuries. The name most probably derives from mascarpa, another milk product made from the whey of stracchino (a young, barely aged cheese), or from mascarpia, a word in the local dialect for ricotta. But ricotta, unlike mascarpone, is made from whey.
Mascarpone cheese was at one time a rarity in India. But not anymore. Most stores stock it at relatively inexpensive rates, and what’s more, YouTube has demystified the process of making mascarpone cheese. Even home-makers and chefs in remote towns of India are making it these days and finding new ways of incorporating it into their baking and confectionery. This versatile cheese, with its beguiling texture and taste, has really fired our imaginations. We bring you a few innovative ways with mascarpone cheese.
1. Italian Tiramisu with Espresso and Mascarpone:
This recipe is charmingly and lucidly presented. The liqueur may be hard to source, but it’s just for extra flavour. As for the sponge fingers, if you can’t buy them, just cut sponge cake into fingers and use it.
2. Roasted figs with mascarpone cheese
Roasted figs is really a misnomer. The fresh figs are just taken and sliced gently into a flower shape, then stuffed with beaten mascarpone cheese, sprinkled with nuts and drizzled with honey, and there you are – a no fuss, no bake dessert in a jiffy.
3. Semifreddo al mascarpone
In this recipe, they use torrone – which is just a form of nougat, made with honey, well-beaten egg whites, nuts and other dry fruits of choice. Our chikki ought to be a good substitute, as it’s only to add some crunchiness to it. Unless, of course, you’d like to try making your own nougat.
4. Mango mascarpone Creme Brulee
Our sweet presenter adds on two more elements to that universal favourite, creme brulee. It helps that they’re both universal favourites too – mango and mascarpone. This is one fool-proof – and fail-proof recipe.
5. Nalesniki: Cheese-filled Crepes
Tatyana, our smiling Russian presenter, does a good job with the demonstration of this all-time French favourite, crepes. She makes a rich filling with mascarpone and ricotta and rolls up the crepes with this, then bakes them in an oven and serves with mixed berries.Amazing!
6. Chocolate Mascarpone Pie
Our somewhat elderly presenter guides us through a meticulously crafted pie. So meticulous that he makes templates of little white chocolate leaves and pipes them out to set in the refrigerator while he’s making his pie. And then, later, when he’s placing the leaves on the delicious-looking pie, ( as though it needs to be made to look more delicious) he has drawn out another template of the pie divided into ten neat geometrical pieces. He uses that as a guide to decorating it symmetrically and evenly. Some perfectionist, this. I don’t know if any of us will have the patience to do it his way. At the most, we might do some uneven and ( we hope) artistic squiggles on the pie.
If you want to say it like a true Italian, lay the stress on the second syllable and roll the r, as in mas-carr-poney. Some pessimists might say that there are only two things in mascarpone – fat, and saturated fat. But then, as a philosophically-minded celebrity once said, ” anything in life that’s any fun is either immoral, illegal or fattening!”