October 26, 2012


    Mascarpone. Pronounced  [mahsk_ar-po-nay]. Not [masker-pohn].  I swear I do a mental face-palm whenever I hear someone trying to be "cultured" and totally mangling the pronunciation.  I hold no punches for the ignorant.  This is a cheese to be respected.  Especially this particular mascarpone. 
    Yet it isn't made in Northern Italy, where the style originates, instead it is actually the product of that oft mocked dairy state, Wisconsin.  Not just a land of uncomfortably electric yellow commodity cheeses and the mysterious "string cheese" (whatever that is).  Wisconsin has in recent years begun to put out a fine offering of artisanal dairy products that are quite in line with the artisan food movement sweeping the continent.  Crave Brothers is no exception. 

Continued after the jump...
  They are innovators in the dairying field.  Putting out a handful of lovingly handcrafted cheeses on their so-futuristic-its-not-even-ironic, totally sustainable farm.  In short they are carbon negative, have an extensive water conservation program, and produce all of their own electricity by processing cow manure (plus enough extra energy to power 300 local homes. Whoa).  All the while supporting many local family run dairies and providing top notch care for their heifers.  But enough save-the-earth talk.  What about the cheese?
    While I adore all of the cheese Crave Bros. offer (hello, they fuel my fresh mozzarella addiction) this, this, mascarpone is wooing me like a slick Italian lover.  I can't say no.  And I don't want to.  Made from pure cream this is one, dare I say, sexy cheese.  
    Mascarpone is deceptively simple.  Fresh cream is mixed with an appropriate amount of citric acid and the remaining whey is allowed to rise to the top and is poured off.  No rennet or bacterial cultures are used to process this product.  Thus making it truly a fresh cheese.  What remains after the whey is skimmed is a velvety smooth, lightly tangy-sweet cheese, with the consistency of the thickest butter-cream frosting ever.  However, this is better than frosting.
    Mascarpone has a magical ability to retain a sweetness despite having no added sugar.  The heavy concentration of lactose (essentially milk sugar) does the job quite nicely.  Dense, spreadable, with the luscious milky-ness I so desire in fresh cheese.  It coats the mouth with butterfat in a way that butter itself can't even compete with.  
    The Crave Bros. have taken their mascarpone far above the level of that other insidiously generic dairy product, "cream cheese".  Comparing it to a tub of, say, Philadelphia is like comparing Filet Mignon to a flaccid block of tofu.  
    Mascarpone by Crave Brothers needs to be on every dessert, used in place of cream to thicken a sauce or whenever butter is called for.  That is to say it ever makes it past your spoon.