Mascarpone is a thick, creamy, silky Italian "cheese" with the mild flavor of sweet cream. Why the quotations around the word cheese? Technically, mascarpone isn't cheese. Let's just say it's part of the cheese family.
Mascarpone is made from cream that is gently heated and mixed with tartaric acid, which curdles and thickens the cream. The thickened cream is poured into cheesecloth and after 24 hours or so when most of the whey has drained off, you're left with creamy slightly sweet and slightly tangy mascarpone.
For an easy, sweet dessert, mix mascarpone with honey, cinnamon, and lemon zest. This honey and mascarpone dip can be served in a variety of ways (besides just eating it with a spoon):
- Cut large strawberries in half and spread the honeyed mascarpone inside each half.
- Spread the mascarpone onto cookies or graham crackers.
- Spread it onto cupcakes for frosting (serve immediately or keep refrigerated; otherwise the frosting will soften and melt).
- Thin out the mascarpone spread with whole cream, turning it into a sauce. Pour the honey mascarpone sauce over fruit salad or larger slices of fruit such as apricots, peaches, and figs.
- Spread honey mascarpone onto French toast, pancakes, and waffles instead of butter.
- 8 ounces mascarpone
- 2 tablespoons honey (or to taste)
- A pinch of cinnamon (about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
In a bowl mix together the mascarpone, honey, cinnamon, and lemon zest until smooth. For an airy, whipped spread, use an immersion blender.
The dip can be served chilled (firmer texture) or at room temperature (creamier texture).
Recipe Note: If the honey is too thick to whisk into the mascarpone, gently heat the honey in the microwave or on the stove until it's runny.
This honey and mascarpone dip will keep for just a few days in the refrigerator. In general, mascarpone is a fresh product that goes bad quickly, so use any open container of mascarpone within a few days.