Cream Cheese vs. Mascarpone: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to Italian desserts, there are a few key ingredients that are always used. One of these ingredients is mascarpone cheese.

But what is mascarpone cheese? And is there any difference between mascarpone and cream cheese?

In this blog post, we will answer all of your questions about cream cheese and mascarpone!

Are Cream Cheese and Mascarpone the Same?

Let’s start by clearing up one question right away: cream cheese and mascarpone are definitely not the same.

The two fresh cheeses look very similar in color and texture, In fact, they’re made by the acid-setting of milk. But they have different tastes, textures, and uses.

Mascarpone is an Italian double or triple cream cheese made from milk, cream, citric acid. It has a butterfat content of 60% to 75% – it’s also the richest cheese made in Italy. But most of the mascarpone you find in the United States is made with cream and milk, so the fat content is a lot lower at about 40-50%.

For example, the Galbani Mascarpone is at about 40% fat USDA. There are just 3 ingredients used: cream, milk, and citric acid.

Philadelphia Cream Cheese is an American cheese that is made with cream and milk, but also with salt, stabilizers, and cultures. It has a butterfat content of 33% minimum.

The Philadelphia Cream Cheese has a fat content of about 35% USDA. Read how it is made here.

In general, mascarpone cheese has a higher butterfat content than cream cheese.

What’s the Difference Between Mascarpone and Cream Cheese?

Mascarpone cheese has a high level of fat content, and it’s a velvety smooth mouthfeel similar to double-crème brie. It is also soft and spreadable, but not fluffy or slightly gritty the way that Philadelphia Cream Cheese is.

It’s denser than whipped cream cheese. However, when whipped properly mascarpone can be a great substitute for whipped cream. But be aware that overwhipping mascarpone may curdle it.

Mascarpone is also less acidic than cream cheese at a pH of 5.5 (1), which gives it a pleasantly sour taste that many people enjoy. It has a subtle flavor with just a hint of sweetness.

With higher pH, mascarpone is better melting than cream cheese, which has a much lower pH at about 4.5.

Mascarpone’s mildness makes it easy to pair with other flavors in savory dishes. And it’s also the perfect ingredient for sweet desserts, especially since it can be easily whipped into a creamy consistency.

Overall, cream cheese is tangier and less rich than mascarpone. You can basically find cream cheese anywhere and is much cheaper than mascarpone.

Can I Use Cream Cheese Instead of Mascarpone? for Tiramisu?

Tiramisu is a cake made with layers of ladyfingers, whipped cream or mascarpone cheese, and espresso. This delicious dessert has become popular all over the world because it’s easy to make and tastes great.

But what if you don’t have mascarpone on hand? Can you use cream cheese instead for tiramisu?

Yes, you can use cream cheese instead of mascarpone for tiramisu. However, the end result may not be as good as if you were to use mascarpone cheese specifically.

Since cream cheese is tangier and less rich than mascarpone, your tiramisu may have a more pronounced flavor.

Alternatively, you can use a ratio of 8-2-1. Use 8 parts of cream cheese, mix with 2 parts of heavy cream, and 1 part of butter. This will create a closer result as mascarpone for tiramisu. For example, use 4 ounces of cream cheese with 1-ounce heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of butter.

Make sure that you soften the butter and cream cheese to avoid lumpy batter.

You can whip the mixture until it is fluffy and thick.

Reference:

  1. Allrecipes – Mascarpone Substitute