Strange Brew

So, (she says casually), I made mascarpone. There’s something about creating one’s own dairy product that is monumentally pleasing, and makes me feel like a one-woman, fully functional, to-scale fromagerie. I’ve made creme fraiche before and mascarpone isn’t too far removed in terms of method. I heated a litre of cream, till small bubbles appeared round the edge, then stirred in just under 1/2 a teaspoon of cream of tartar, and let it bubble away merrily for about 5 minutes. I then allowed it to cool, and lined a sieve with a couple of coffee filters that Tim had mysteriously acquired for me from Starbucks. This bit is a little cumbersome but not complicated: Sit the lined sieve over a bowl, then pour the cream mixture carefully into the sieve, and leave overnight in the fridge to slowly drain. Or, if your abode is as cold as my flat, you can leave it on the bench.

Seriously, our kitchen is so cold that the olive oil on the shelf by the window has solidified in its bottle. Which is what happens if you put it in the fridge.

Et voila! Mascarpone!

Above: The mound of mascarpone, with the strainer, coffee filters, and drained liquid.

I love how the mascarpone took on the folds and curves of the filters and sieve so it resembles a plump, billowy pillow.

As I said in my last post, I planned on making tiramisu this weekend. I realise this Italian specialty is fairly unexciting and run-of-the-mill these days, but – gasp – I’ve never tasted it in my life. Let alone made one in my own kitchen. I used a recipe from but just realised there was a perfectly serviceable one in my Claudia Roden “Food of Italy” book. The two recipes are very similar though, and it would seem that the greatest discrepancy between any of the various recipes I’ve seen for this occurs in the number of eggs used. The Cuisine recipe only used three eggs, which was a nice, small, non-frightening amount.

Above: Making the zabaglione, rich with Marsala wine.

I am, if nothing else, forever indebted to Nigella for introducing me to the heavenly liquor that is Marsala, and I was very pleased to see that the Cuisine recipe called for it. The whole process of making tiramisu isn’t terribly difficult, and I did the whole thing in about an hour. The fiddliest thing is the zabaglione part, which involves all sorts of things that I tend to avoid – separating eggs, fitting a bowl over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the base of the bowl touch the water or a kitten dies!) and endless whisking. Despite the pain, it is pleasing to watch the eggy, sugary mixture come together. Into this, I folded the mascarpone, and whisked-till-stiff eggwhites (another thing I dislike – recipes that use lots of bowls. Such is life though.)

Above: Freshly brewed coffee, made capably by Tim, plus the Savoiardi biscuits and the Marsala (I added a splash to the coffee as well. It belongs in everything.)

Slightly untraditionally, I put a layer of grated chocolate in each layer, basically because I had some bitter dark chocolate that needed using up. I also ended up – aided by some judicious spatula work – with three layers of biscuits, which used up exactly one packet, in a regular sized loaf tin.

Above: The biscuits soaked up the coffee very quickly – a deft hand is required. I usually err on the side of undeft, but it’s not difficult or anything. The only thing I found taxing was trying not to get crumbs of the biscuits caught up in the cream mixture.

Then of course, the moment of truth – the eating. Not that I flatter myself that my own personal tiramisu is the definitive article, the ur-pudding, but I followed the recipe and everything went to plan, so I’m guessing what I created is more or less what it should have been. And it was delicious. The texture is just…mad. Damp biscuits which crunch hollowly against the most voluptuous, rich cream…oh yum. More please.

The snap of the darkest dark chocolate against the cream is, I think, my favourite part. Oh, and the coffee was perfect – of course!

Yesterday afternoon Tim, Paul and I went to see the Wellington Phoenix play some Melbourne team. We got trounced resoundedly, and to add insult to injury it utterly, without reservation, bucketed with rain on the walk home. I was glad that I’d had the foresight to bake a casserole earlier in the day – using a recipe from my delightful Supercooks Supersavers Cookbook from 1980 – and it was basically the nicest thing in the world to come home to. I had the crock pot ticking away overnight making vegetable soup into which I biffed a lamb shank, it smells heavenly and we are going to have it for dinner tonight along with the leftover casserole (made very cheaply with gravy beef)…much as I absolutely cannot wait for summer to arrive, I do love winter comfort food wholeheartedly.

After eating our delicious casserole last night, Tim and I managed to stay up till 1.30am to watch the closing ceremony of the Olympics. I guess it’s really saying something if, comparitively at least – it seemed fairly low-key. The reason we persisted in staying bleary-eyedly awake is because Jimmy Page of Led Zep was supposed to be playing, little did we know it was going to be alongside British songstress Leona Lewis, she of the particularly awful song “Bleeding Love.” We could not, however, deny that she has an excellent voice…nor that Page seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself as she gyrated beside him. The whole London bit seemed altogether bizarre – here’s a bus! And a celebration of our awful weather! And a child descended of multiple ethnicities! And now the bus is turning into a…hey, there’s David Beckham!

I’ll definitely miss the Olympics, it’s astounding to think of all that buildup just for two short weeks. The New Zealand team certainly were amazing, I will not, however, at all miss the pitiful New Zealand reporting/commentating team. Finally, and speaking of rock music, my title refers to the 1967 Cream song, but you know, brew…coffee…cream…tiramisu…a little forced, I know, but it made me chuckle.

37 thoughts on “Strange Brew

  1. Kay says:

    Italian food looks delish – I’ll have the ingredients ready for your next return visit….. Haven’t seen the Olympic finishing ceremony yet but *skite* after seeing Led Zep in the flesh at Western Springs maaaaaany years ago… nothing else quite compares. Impressed with your soccer knowledge (“some Melbourne team”). Julian’s experimenting with a vegan diet for a while. Got any recipes? He’s trying quinoa tonight …..but he didn’t like it last time I cooked it so time will tell. Meanwhile, I have a spare piece of schnitzel which I had already prepared for him for dinner tonight. (Last time I’m going to start thinking of what to have for dinner more than 10 minutes before I get it ready).


  2. Viv says:

    Ok, I’m impressed! Making your own mascarpone! Well done. Made a very yummy lemon dessert for, well dessert of course, tonight. Felt quite virtous as it only has 3 tablespoons of flour. (don’t mention the sugar)


  3. Adam says:

    Ah, Tiramisu, probably the most famous and most delicious Italian dessert ever. The blend of coffee, cream, and chocolate helped make the Romans conquer the world… actually I made that up 🙂But it has helped me conquer girls stomachs… hahaOk, random things so I don’t take too much post space:-Good for you for enjoying weight lifting… I am very very excited for you-Try eating for 11 at first, and then 10 and so on… slow and steady-The “Dana-burger” haha yes you are totally right dude-Thanks for the layout compliment, I just have some colors to play with now… I’m not a decorator at all-I’ll start to trade cooler weather with you now 🙂


  4. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    Mum: LOL I thought you might mention Led Zep. Does Julian know that vegans can’t eat all the good things in this world: bacon, cheese, butter, chocolate, milk, meatballs, cheese? Though, if you go to my ‘tags’ column down the right hand side and click on vegetarian that should be a start…JillyB: Thankyou! 😀Sarah: thanks, thanks THANKS! And give it a try, it’s pretty simple 🙂Viv: Thanks, and that dessert sounds delish…Anna: I think it looks more impressive than it is lol 😀Diva: No you inspire me! And yeah, don’t you just want to lie down on it? Adam: Well, your posts are pretty nifty, esp now that I know I’m not going to be ‘She-Hulk’ LOL. And yup, tiramisu is amazing stuff.


  5. Pen says:

    You MADE mascarpone? Holy hell that’s impressive! Tiramisu truly is food of the Gods. I am forced by some unknown force to order it whenever it’s on a menu. It’s a hard life *sigh*


  6. Jen Yu says:

    Girlfriend, I am floored – homemade mascarpone?!? Awesome! I imagine that must make the tiramisu ten times better 🙂 Wow wow wow wow wow!!! I also like your shaved chocolate layer. I think Jeremy would be all over that (I typically sprinkle cocoa powder, but we’ll have to change that next time!) I’m still in awe that you made your own mascarpone! wow!!!!


  7. Anonymous says:

    Like you, my dear, I am well obsessed with creating my own dairy (the newest venture in my search for self-sustainability). Congratulations on such a lovely mound of mascarpone – you’ve inspired me to make it my next dairy project. In fact, I’d never thought of using coffee filters in a sieve to prevent any of the precious creation from leaking through. THANK you for that.Beautiful tiramisu, too. Makes me wish I liked it enough to make it.


  8. Ann says:

    Mascarpone from SCRATCH, wow. That’s just totally impressive. It looks so soft and cushion-like. And the tiramisu looks divine.So envious of that concert!


  9. hot garlic says:

    You are a talented blogger and will do very well I am sure. You are witty and charming, and it seems like your food adventures will prove to be exciting. Making your own Mascarpone is a great idea, I think I might have to try it! I would love to know how it compares to the store-bought stuff in my fridge.


  10. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    Brenda: Thankyou! 🙂Linda: Definitely, just like pesto – it’s still good! I’m more impressed by your mozzarella though!KF: Thanks, I’ll add it to my next post.Pen: Sigh indeed lol. Jen: You, in awe of me? How the tables have turned 🙂Wanderluck: Thanks for stopping by, and coffee filters are surprisingly useful 😀Kevin: You should give it a go – sounds harder than it is 😉Anne: Definitely cushionlike…I wanted to bury my face in it LOL.Hot Garlic: Thanks and thanks for stopping by! 🙂


  11. pixen says:

    Wow..thank you so much for the marscapone tutorial :-* muahhh… I’d been looking for easy solution for this cheese. In my home country, it’s quite expensive and the shell life is very short by the time the Galbani Mascarpone arrived at the local supermarche. Do you think I can use other type of cream…cos sometimes is difficult to find fresh cream 😦 What about those Thickened Cream, Double cream?Thanks


  12. kittie says:

    I’m so impressed! And the photos are amazing 🙂 (COnindicentally, I opened the link through tastespotting, only to find I had just opened it through my reader as well!!!)


  13. Angry Asian says:

    thank you for this recipe, i could’ve used this on Monday when i was making Use Real Butter’s Espresso Choc. Semifreddo and two of my grocery stores had NO marscapone cheese! 😦 i had to make do with cream cheese instead, which made the entire concoction slightly biggie, i have some cream in the fridge that i had no idea what to do with… now i do! 🙂


  14. Anonymous says:

    Hi- congratulations for beautiful looking mascarpone! I’d like to try too, but what type of cream did you use. Was it thick double cream or runny single cream? (any idea of the fat percentage?)Thanks!!


  15. Marcey says:

    i’m wondering, how long did you let the cream cool before you put it in the sieve and then the refrigerator? did you allow it to get to room temperature?


  16. jen says:

    I will try the mascarpone, I assure you. Not just say I will because it looks fabulous and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I really will do this.I totally agree with you on the Olympics as well. There’s nothing on the tele anymore…


  17. Kay says:

    Ooooh 30 comments posted. Seems like you are now almost world-famous amongst the “marscaponi” (coined word for those who worship at the at the alter of the goddess of cream). There have been two consecutive rain-free days – Spring has sprung! Julian still a vegan (Day 3) although I’ve had mid-day texts to buy him nuts…. Will check out your vegetarian recipes, but, he tells me that he can’t eat honey because it’s been made by bees ergo an animal product. I did ponder the part bes played in pollinating flowers which eventually became vegan food…. Oh, and his veganism does not extend to being concerned about a mass annihilation of an ant colony wandering at leisure through my kitchen. Hope Wellington is getting the same thawing weather as we are getting here.


  18. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    Pixen: Double cream would be perfect 🙂Kittie: Yay for TS 😀Sandy & Mike: Thanks for stopping by and I hope you try the recipe!Amy: Thank you!Dee: Heck no, tiramisu is an achievement in itself. And mascarpone is easier than it looks.AA: Hope it worked out for you then:)Lo: It's a good way of getting around…thanks for stopping by 🙂Om!Ap!: I really want to try that recipe! It sounds unusual but amazing…Anon&Marcey: I used plain cream but the cream here in NZ is quite thick, so maybe try double cream. I let it cool a wee bit. It was still warm though.Lori: One of the good things about it lol.Jen: Thanks…I miss seeing the gymnastics!Mum: Actually sunny today 😀 Ate bratwurst sausages for dinner last night and thought witheringly of Julian. If it makes him happy though…Foodycat: Thank you and thanks for stopping by 😀


  19. angie says:

    That looks fantastic! I didn’t realize that mascarpone can be home-made, I am definitely trying that next time. I’m so cheap, I hate paying for it at the store!


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