With its long Italian name and absence from most familiar American recipes, mascarpone cheese can be an intimidating ingredient for even the most seasoned cook. Mascarpone is an Italian dairy product, made from culturing creme fraiche with tartaric acid. It is much more similar in texture and production to yoghurt than cheese. Since it can be used in place of yoghurt, whipped double cream, or soft cheese, it is possible to make an entire meal that incorporates mascarpone. When most American cooks think of mascarpone cheese, they think of tiramisu. This Italian cake layers coffee-soaked ladyfinger cookies with mascarpone cheese to create a light and delicious dessert.
Brew 1 ½ cups of strong coffee. Alternately, you can mix 1 ½ cups of boiling water with two tablespoons of instant espresso powder. Set aside.
In a bowl, beat together three egg yolks, with 1 cup of white sugar and 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract. Once combined, fold in 1 ¼ cups of mascarpone cheese.
Set out a 12-by-12 inch baking dish. Dip 12 ladyfingers cookies into the coffee or espresso you have set aside. Layer the cookies along the bottom of the baking dish. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the cookies. Soak 12 more cookies in coffee, layer on top of the mascarpone. Spread the second half of the mascarpone mixture on top.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour to ensure the flavours meld and that the cake is cool and firm.
When you are ready to serve, sprinkle the cake with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings. Serve. Cover any leftovers with cling film and store in the refrigerator.
For another delicious way to enjoy mascarpone, use in place of yoghurt in a parfait with fruit and granola.