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:


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 and Enjoy!

So Many New Summer Cheeses, So Little Time

Somehow I get the feeling Wisconsin cheesemakers don’t take summer vacation. With all the new cheeses out on the market this season, it’s hard to keep up. Here are few new favorites worth trying before the summer is over:

Mediterranean Fontina, Sartori Cheese
Master Cheesemaker Mike Matucheski has hit another home run with this new creation, just now launch in national markets. It features the earthy flavors of garlic, thyme and olive oil, even giving off a little heat, courtesy of the Aleppo pepper. This beauty just won second place in its class at the 2011 Wisconsin State Fair Cheese Competition.

Ricotta Salata, BelGioioso Cheese
Known as The Italian Feta, Ricotta Salata starts as a milky ricotta. Salt is added to aide in moisture loss and the cheese is then hand scooped into cheesecloth and pressed into wheels. During the 60-day aging process, its texture becomes dry and crumbly, producing a wheel that is easy to slice, cube, crumble and shave. It’s perfect for topping hot pastas or cold salads. BelGioioso’s Ricotta Salata won a second place at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest in March and is just now hitting retail shelves.

Quark, Cedar Grove Cheese
There’s never a dull moment when Master Cheesemaker Bob Wills is around. His latest addition to the Wisconsin cheese scene is German Style Quark, a fresh cheese that’s a cross between cream cheese and cottage cheese. Common in Europe, Quark is just now catching on in the United States. Try mixing fresh herbs for a spread or using it in a cheesecake. I’ve also had it mixed with dark chocolate and strawberries – yum! – courtesy of Cheesemaker Blair Johnson. Available in select Wisconsin specialty cheese stores. Call your cheesemonger and request it!

Evalon with Cumin or Fenugreek, LaClare Farms Specialties
U.S. Champion Cheesemaker Katie Hedrich has rolled out two new cheeses. Evalon, a semi-hard goat’s milk cheese, is now available with either a strip of cumin or fenugreek down the middle. Both cheeses are new to the market, but can be found in specialty cheese shops across the state. The fenugreek style just won a Blue Ribbon at the American Cheese Society in Montreal. Congrats, Katie!