Italian Cream Cheese

Rate this recipe

Preparation info

  • Makes about

    1 pound

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Great Italian Desserts

By Nick Malgieri

Published 1990

  • About

Mascarpone, one of the richest cheeses imaginable (close to 80 percent milk fat), is essential to several Italian desserts, among them tiramisù. Excellent mascarpone, imported from Italy, is available under several different labels. Unfortunately, it is not very widely distributed and, outside major cities with large Italian populations, may be difficult to find.

To develop a recipe for mascarpone, I spoke with Paula Lambert, president of the Mozzarella Company. Ms. Lambert’s company prepares many types of European-style cheeses difficult to find in the United States, including mascarpone. She explained that the procedure is a simple one: heavy cream is heated, curdled slightly by the addition of a combination of tartaric and citric acids, and drained so that the watery whey drains away from the fat-rich curd. The yield from the cream is approximately 50 percent, making the yield from 1 quart of cream about 1 pound of mascarpone.

You will need the same equipment to make mascarpone as was used in Homemade Ricotta.


  • 1 quart heavy whipping cream (NOT ultrapasteurized)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice


Choose a stainless steel bowl that fits inside a large saucepan without touching the bottom of the pan. Add water to the pan and place the bowl in the pan so that the bowl touches the surface of the water but still sits firmly on the rim of the pan. Remove the bowl, place the pan on medium heat, and bring the water to a boil.

Place the cream in the bowl and place over the boiling water. Adjust the heat under the pan to medium and heat the cream, checking the temperature often with an instant-read thermometer, to 190 degrees; stir occasionally. Stir in the vinegar, continuing to stir gently until the cream begins to curdle. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and allow the curds to firm up for 10 minutes.

Line a strainer or colander with dampened cheesecloth, napkin, or coffee filters. Set the strainer or colander over a bowl and carefully spoon the curds into the strainer. Allow the mascarpone to cool to room temperature, cover the strainer tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24 hours to allow the cheese to finish draining and become firm.

Store in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container. Use the mascarpone within 3 or 4 days.