Thursday, April 19, 2012

For the Love of Mascarpone Cheese

Hi all!  I know I told you, last Tuesday, about my secret love affair with chives.  The truth is, I am having an even more secret love affair that I am about to reveal.  It isn’t even a love affair.  It actually borders on obsession.  Before you start to think I am completely psycho, and have a restraining order taken out against me….I must tell you that this love affair is with mascarpone cheese.  Yes, I have gone the way of Giada De Laurentiis.  I put mascarpone cheese in everything.  But I don’t pronounce it with an Italian accent.  In fact, I am pretty sure I mispronounce it every time I say it.

Mascarpone cheese is basically an Italian cream cheese.  It is sold in 8 ounce containers, and you are familiar with it if you have had tiramisu.  But don’t be fooled….it doesn’t taste like American cream cheese.  I think it is a little bit sweeter, and it doesn’t really have the tang of cream cheese.  It is super smooth and creamy though, just like cream cheese.  It is used in both sweet and savory recipes.  And to show that, I will be showing you two recipes today…one sweet and one savory.  And both crazy easy.

Now you know that I almost never post other people’s recipes.  I usually post my own.  Today, I am going against everything I believe in.  Everything I know.  Everything I love.  Today, I am posting a recipe straight from the Queen of mascarpone cheese herself…..Giada. 

I was watching her show a couple of weeks ago, and she made a dip that was a combination of mascarpone and sour cream, mixed with chives and bacon.  I knew I had to make it.  I made it for a friend and her family, and we all could not stop eating it.  Literally, we had a problem stopping.  There might have even been bowl licking going on.  I add an extra ingredient, which you will see, but still….I owe it all to Giada.

I used my love, mascarpone cheese….and sour cream, bacon, chives, garlic salt, pepper and pecans.  Pecans were my very own touch;)

My mascarpone had been sitting out at room temperature for a while, so it was easily mixable.  I blended the sour cream, mascarpone, garlic salt and pepper together.

Then I stirred in my chopped pecans, chopped chives, and cooked and chopped bacon.

So you can see this dip comes together in seconds.  If you want to eat it right away, go ahead.  But don’t be afraid to stick it in the fridge for a while.  It is even better the next day after the flavors get a chance to marry.  I know, I know…that kind of marriage wouldn’t be recognized in California.  I will eat this in Vermont.

I served mine with corn chips, which seemed like the right thing to do.  If you have a party to go to, or you are throwing a party….you must make this.  It is the perfect mix of smooth creaminess, a bit of tang from the sour cream, salt from the nuts and bacon, etc.  So, so good.

I really wish I hadn’t inhaled all of this last night.  I really want some now.

My next recipe is actually all my own.  I also used some mascarpone in a sweet fruit dip.  I wanted to make a fruit dip that would encourage my kids to eat fruit.  This dip did that and then some.  They ate so much fruit I was scared that there were going to be some severe tummy consequences today. 

I used mascarpone, sour cream, brown sugar and vanilla extract.  Could not be easier.

I tossed all the ingredients into a bowl.  Obviously.

Although my mascarpone was room temperature, I still busted out my hand mixer just to make sure the brown sugar was all mixed in.  I wanted this smooth.

This dip is sweet, creamy and totally delicious.  I love brown sugar in anything, and it definitely goes well with sour cream and fruit.

Oh man.  I could eat all of this.

And I am pretty sure I did.

This dip is also a must try.  So many yummy fruits are starting to come into season now.  They would all be perfect with this fruit dip.  I promise.  I ate enough of it to be sure.

I hope that you also fall in love with mascarpone cheese the way I have.  It deserves some recognition for something other than tiramisu.

Here is a link to Giada’s dip recipe.  My big change is that I added ½ cup of chopped pecans.  I also used garlic salt in my dip.  And I didn’t serve mine with pita chips.  So really, just a few changes;)

Mascarpone Fruit Dip

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

¾ cup sour cream

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Blend all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.  Serve with assorted fruit.

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