Mascarpone cheese is a very soft cheese made from whole cream and citric or tartaric acid that has a very smooth texture and a milky, sweet taste. Some mascarpone cheeses have a tangy finish. The most common cooking application for mascarpone cheese is in the Italian dessert tiramisu.
Mascarpone adds richness and creaminess to savory or sweet dishes. It is basically just thickened cream that has a slightly firmer texture than butter. Because mascarpone cheese has a short shelf life, it is important to use it within a few days. French creme fraiche and English clotted cream are similar to mascarpone cheese, and some chefs may substitute cream cheese or high-quality, creamy ricotta cheese for mascarpone.
Mascarpone cheese is added to some types of pasta sauces. It can also be used successfully in macaroni and cheese. Some cooks add mascarpone cheese to soups to thicken them up. Mascarpone cheese can be used in dessert dishes, such as strawberry mascarpone tarts, chocolate mascarpone pies, lemon mascarpone layer cakes or ginger mascarpone icebox cakes. A honey mascarpone spread can be applied to pancakes or fruit, and mascarpone cheese can also be used in truffles. Some people enjoy sprinkling chocolate shavings or cocoa powder and a dash of sugar on mascarpone cheese and it eating it as is.