February 27, 2010

Make It At Home - Mascarpone Cheese

W
hen I started blogging and experimenting with recipes and procedures that were new to me, I realised that many of the ingredients that most Western cookbooks, food sites and blogs considered common and easily available were just not easy to source where I live. Either the stores didn't stock them or if they did, I could find the imported versions being sold at exorbitantly high and unaffordable prices. Even if I could consider buying them, I wasn't too sure how close or beyond the expiry date those packages were!

 


So the alternative in most cases was to look for workable substitutes or recipes that would show me how to make these at home. One such ingredient was Mascarpone Cheese. Other than Paneer (a soft fresh Indian milk cheese) which almost everyone I know makes, I didn't think I could make any kind of cheese at home. I had visions of commercial level vats of boiling milk of some sort and working with cultures and all that stuff.
That was until I discovered that some cheeses could actually be made at home with very little effort. So much so that people were swearing that they would never again be spending $$$ on expensive cheese when it could be made at home from easily available ingredients and very little work!



 
And that's really the case with Mascarpone Cheese. its so easy to make at home that you could almost do it in your sleep. All you need is some cream, something to heat it up and a lime/ lemon to curdle it. Find a strainer, some clean cotton kitchen towels (you don't really need cheese cloth or muslin) and you're pretty much in business.
Mascarpone Cheese
(Adapted from Baking Obsession)
 
Ingredients:
500ml cream (I use 25% fat)
1 tbsp fresh lime/ lemon juice
 
Method:
Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, and then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 75 to 80C (175F). If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise/ custard. It should coat the back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. 
 
 
Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
The next morning you should have thick and creamy mascarpone cheese, ready to use. Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days. Please note that this process produces very little whey.
This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of mascarpone cheese ( a little over 300gm approx.)


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