This week I’m working on adapting a favorite carrot cake recipe to accommodate soaking the flour ahead of time. Soaking the flour will break down its phytic acid, making it more easily digestible. And while I was able to make other adjustments pretty easily, one sticking point was what to put on top of the cake. The recipe calls for a cream cheese frosting, which is a perfect thing to put on a carrot cake, but it seems a shame to use a highly processed product like commercial cream cheese on top of this wonderfully earthy cake. Fortunately, I was able to come up with an excellent solution: mascarpone cheese.
So, a little while ago, my friend Judith had a recipe of hers featured in one of the top slots on Foodbuzz. Nearby was another featured recipe, this one for homemade mascarpone cheese. I took a look at the recipe, and realized that I had found my solution right there! Mascarpone is a little bit softer and creamier than cream cheese, but for my purposes, it’s perfect.
Making mascarpone at home takes a just little bit of time, and the process is pretty straightforward. The resulting product is fresh, creamy, and delicious. And you know exactly what you’re getting because you made it.
Adapted from a recipe from Teenie Cakes
2 cups heavy cream (I used raw cream)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Fill a saucepan with enough water so that when a heat-resistant bowl is set on top of it, the water touches the bottom of the bowl. This will be your double boiler setup. Normally you don’t want the water to touch the upper pan, but in this case, it is desirable.
Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is at a simmer. Pour the cream into bowl, then place it on top of the saucepan. Heat the cream, stirring often with a whisk, to 190 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.
Add lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently until the cream curdles. The whipping cream will become thicker and should evenly and thickly cover the back of a wooden spoon. The curds will be very, very small, almost imperceptible; the thickening of the cream is the key.
Remove the bowl from the saucepan and cool for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, line a strainer with four layers of cheesecloth, run water over it to dampen the cheesecloth, and set the strainer over a large bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined strainer. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface. Once cooled completely, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the strainer) overnight or up to 24 hours. The cheese will drain during this time.
The next day, remove cheese from the bowl and strainer, transferring it to another bowl. The mascarpone will be removable as once solid piece. Stir it, and you will see how magically creamy it has become!
Make approximately 12 oz.