Cheeky spoonfuls of Mascarpone cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember one of the first times I came across mascarpone cheese. My mum whipped up a dessert that looked like it came out of a five-star restaurant. She layered sheets of buttered phyllo in muffin cups to create individual artful baskets of pastry. After baking and cooling, she lined the bottom of the flakey cups with a mixture of mascarpone cheese and white chocolate, gently dropped in freshly sliced strawberries and drizzled with melted chocolate. The result is a symphony of flavour and texture, and a plating experience for your guests they won’t soon forget.

Last weekend I had been searching for a pizza recipe when I came across a strawberry pizza. With a puff pastry base and a layer of mascarpone cheese, I couldn’t resist to pick up a tub of the soft cheese and make a combination of two of my favourite things: dessert and pizza. It was also an excuse to get a tub of mascarpone cheese in my fridge, which means only one thing… cheeky spoonfuls.

Mascarpone cheese is cream cheese taken to a new level. It is rich and creamy, with a visible silkiness that regular cream cheese doesn’t have. It also has a natural sweetness that makes it a treat on its own (cheeky spoonfuls) but when combined with other sweet flavours, becomes an even richer sweet and irresistible ingredient for desserts, most commonly, tiramisu.  It is an Italian cheese made from cream and citric acid, and is also used as a thickener in savoury dishes and sauces.

This cheese isn’t cheap. A 500g tub will cost $7.99 on a good day. When I was in Vincenzo’s, a local Italian deli and bakery, I had to debate long and hard with myself whether or not I wanted 500g or 250g. It was a cost benefit analysis, but also a waistline benefit analysis. If I get a big tub, chances are there will be leftovers, making way for too many cheeky spoonfuls (and at 78% of your daily saturated fat in 4 tablespoons, well, you get it). If I get a small tub, I’m really not getting enough cheese for my buck. The winner was a 500g tub.

So with that 500g tub of luscious cheese, I was able to make my strawberry pizza. The combination of mascarpone with sugar and cinnamon made the “pizza” sauce which gave a richness to the flakey puff pastry and heightened the sweetness of the fresh strawberries. I drizzled white chocolate over top even though the recipe didn’t call for it, remembering how it enhanced my mum’s phyllo dessert. Since the recipe only called for about a half cup of cheese, a few cheeky spoonfuls were had and it was also used in a blueberry baked French toast to replace cream cheese.

There’s still a bit left in the fridge. I wonder what I should do with it…

Strawberry Mascarpone Cheese Pizza recipe courtesy of Canadian Living

 

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