Q: How does one avoid mascarpone splitting when beating to soften it? I recently almost wasted 4 tubs, because it curdled instead of becoming creamy. I mixed 2 tubs, one which was at room temperature, the other fridge cold, and I thought that may have contributed, but when I used 2 cold ones, the same thing happened. I ended up with grainy tiramisu!

A: Mascarpone is a triple-cream cheese made from crème fraîche, denatured with tartaric acid. Sometimes buttermilk is added as well, depending on the brand. The whey is removed without pressing or ageing. It is milky-white in colour and is easily spread. It originated in the area between Lodi and Abbiategrasso, Italy, southwest of Milan, probably in the late 16th or early 17th century.

Mascarpone can split for a number of reasons, including.

  1. The most common is that it is old or has not been properly handled ie the cold chain has been broken.  You can usually tell this when you open it and it looks decidedly yellow.
  2. When we make in our Italian cooking class at Wickedfood Cooking School, we place the mascarpone in a bowl and then with a fork, slowly fold the Zabaglione mixture or whipped cream, ensuring that it is well incorporated.