There are definite advantages to making your own mascarpone cheese. First, you get a really good quality product that rivals the best mascarpone you can find at the store, like Galbani. I know, Galbani is probably not the best mascarpone there is, but it’s the best available locally to me.
Mascarpone, especially Galbani, is expensive. That’s my reason number two. Galbani costs about $12 a pound. You can make a pound of excellent mascarpone at home for about $5-6. Or less if you shop for cream and milk smart. Like in Costco.
Finally, I can control the texture and thickness. I can make my mascarpone more creamy by adding more cream and less milk. I can make it thicker by letting it drain for a bit longer, or more spreadable by letting it drain a bit less.
Oh, and the taste of freshly made mascarpone is like the taste of freshly made bread – it’s the best hot from the oven. Or in this case, fresh from the colander. It doesn’t age well and only gets worse with time, just like bread. If you’ve tried a slice of hot bread from the oven with some butter on top, you know what I am talking about.
To make mascarpone cheese all you technically need is whole milk, heavy cream and tartaric acid or citric acid/lemon juice to help the curd to form and separate from whey. Calcium chloride is desirable to help set a firmer curd when using pasteurized milk and cream, but I’ve made mascarpone cheese without it with good results.
As for the tools, you will need a boiling pot and heat proof bowl to set up a double boiler, an accurate instant read or BBQ thermometer, a colander and a piece of muslin/cheese cloth. Most of these tools should be readily available at most home kitchens.
The process is very simple. Heat the milk and cream with a little bit of calcium chloride until it reaches 185F.
Pour tartaric acid dissolved in a little bit of water.
Let sit for 30 minutes, then ladle into a cheese cloth lined colander sitting over a bowl. The curds will be very small, you will barely see any whey separation at this time.
Fold the cheese cloth over and let drain for about 1-2 hours for a soft, spreadable mascarpone cheese, or up 6 hours and over night for a thicker cheese that you would use to make Tiramisu cake.
Mascarpone starts to shape up around the sides after about 30 minutes, but still very soft in the middle. Let it drain more.
And the end of this simple process is one of the most delicious homemade mascarpone cheeses.
- 4 cups heavy cream (36-40% fat)
- 4 cups whole milk (3.25% fat)
- ¼ tsp calcium chloride
- ½ tsp tartaric acid dissolved in 4 Tbsp of drinking water
- Set up a double boiler (a pot filled with about 2 inches of water with a stainless steel bowl on top) large enough to hold about about 2 quarts of liquid. You want the milk and cream to fill no more than half of the double boiler.
- Pour the milk and the cream into the bowl and add ¼ tsp of calcium chloride to help set a firm curd. Stir the milk and cream mix.
- Start heating the water in the double boiler and slowly raising the milk temperature to 185F. Let the mix sit at this temperature for 5 minutes.
- Add ½ tsp tartaric acid dissolved in 4 Tbsp of water. Stir gently. You will notice the curd beginning to form. The curd will be very soft though.
- Remove the bowl from the double boiler and allow the mix to cool for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime place a large colander over a large enough bowl. Line the colander with a double layer of muslin (cheese cloth).
- Gently ladle the mix into the colander and fold the corners of the muslin over the top of the draining curd. Place the colander in a cool area or in a fridge for 2 hours for a soft, creamy mascarpone texture.
- Continue draining the curd for up to 6 hours or longer if needed to get a thicker, denser texture.
- Transfer mascarpone cheese into a clean container, cover and refrigerate for up to 7-14 days.
- Let the mascarpone warm up to room temperature if it feels to thick, it will soften up and become mor spreadable.