Monday, August 22, 2011

Mascarpone: The Other White Cheese


Rich, buttery and sumptuous: Mascarpone cheese was made for summer. Whether used in a dessert, dip or spread, Mascarpone's creamy white appearance and smooth, thick texture makes it a natural choice for recipes that call for sweet creamy cheese.

Mascarpone originated in the Lombardy region in Italy. It is perhaps best known for its starring role in the traditional Italian dessert, Tiramisu, combining Mascarpone with lady fingers soaked in espresso. But these days, the cheese can be found in a variety of applications, with two Wisconsin companies specializing in making it:

BelGioioso Cheese
In 1990, BelGioioso became the first American company to craft Mascarpone in the United States, and the company now offers three types for various applications. Its Classic Mascarpone is naturally light and blends well with other ingredients. Tiramisu Mascarpone is the company's flavored version, mixed with real coffee and sugar, while Creme di Mascarpone is sweeter than the classic version. BelGioioso's Classic Mascarpone won a Best in Class Gold Medal at the 2010 World Championship Cheese Contest.

Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese
Fresh and sweeter than its original Italian inspiration, Crave Brothers' Farmstead cheese is custom-made for desserts. Crafted on the Crave dairy farm, the family's Mascarpone is sweet and dreamy, with a light, sweet, creamy taste. A multiple award-winner, Crave Brothers' Mascarpone just won a Best of Class Blue Ribbon at the 2011 American Cheese Society, held August 6 in Montreal.

Earlier this month, I had the amazing fortune to judge the Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese annual recipe contest at the Waterloo Farmer's Market, and a dish - featuring Mascarpone, of course - took top honors. Created by Deb Dunstan of Deerfield, Wis., Summer Strawberry Delight was inspired by a friend and her fresh strawberry bread. Deb took that thought to a new level, and with carrot cake frosting in mind, added mascarpone to cake batter, reduced the sugar in half, and added chopped strawberries. The result is fantastic. Here's the recipe:

SUMMER STRAWBERRY DELIGHT

Creamy Cheese Batter
8 oz. Crave Brothers Mascarpone Cheese at room temperature
¼ cup of white sugar
¼ cup fresh strawberries, finely chopped - or - unsweetened frozen berries, thawed, drained and mashed.

Cream mascarpone cheese and sugar together until smooth.  Stir in strawberries.  Set aside.

Cake Batter
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced - or - unsweetened frozen berries, thawed, drained and chopped

Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the oil, eggs and strawberries. Beat until the dry ingredients are just moist.

Pour into greased and floured 9" round pan.

Spoon the creamy cheese over the top of the cake batter.  Gently swirl and fold the creamy cheese into the cake ensuring that it does not totally mix in but also gets to the bottom of the pan.

Bake at 350F for 55 - 60 minutes.  It is done when a toothpick comes out clean.  Serve with ice cream or when chilled, sprinkle with powdered sugar and dollop with whipped cream.

For additional recipes featuring Wisconsin Mascarpone, visit http://cravecheese.com/recipes.php and http://www.belgioioso.com/Mascarpone.htm. Enjoy!

2 comments:

The Epicure in Light said...

Here's a fun Mascarpone appetizer that will mystify your guests:
http://epicureinlight.com/2011/05/16/a-deceptively-simple-party-snack/

Enjoy,
Rob

I Wilkerson said...

On the ACS tour there a number of years ago, they did something very simple but effective. They up-ended a vanilla wafer, slathered it with their marscapone, then topped it with a fresh raspberry. I couldn't believe how delightful something that simple could be!