Now, Food Daddy ain’t German — he’s Italian, through and through.
But my newest acronym — “ICBIN” — sounds amazingly Teutonic, nein?
Here, standing for our purposes for the familiar, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not…”, its other inspiration, the German “Ich Bin”, means “I Am”. And as we’re herewith referring to substitutes and stand-ins, it rather imparts an air of “Hey, I might not be the original but I sure as hell AM all that I’m cracked up to be!” Otherwise, the air might be one of apology: “Sorry I’m not what you expected. I shall try not to disappoint you too frigging much.”
It’s a statement much more accurate than the one JFK made with the same Germanic phraseology, his announcement that he was a person from Berlin being widely held to quite accidentally assert instead, “I am a jelly donut.”
Regardless, I’m introducing this first ICBIN — a cheaper solution to the store-bought variety, and an easier one to come by as the ingredients are even available at 7-11 or WaWa Markets in the middle of the night.
I’ve played with many different “substitute” recipes and none quite pleased me as much as this creation of mine which incorporates elements of the best of them. The biggest help here is the addition of butter, which gives a creamy boost to the blend that really helps approximate the texture and triple-cream notes of traditional mascarpone. Just note that when chilled, this becomes rather firm because of the butter — delightful in its own right that way, but it will soften as it comes to room temperature, as well.
Whip this up, and it’s ready to enjoy — as is, as the base for dips or spreads, or in recipes calling for mascarpone. And yes, you guessed it: this is timed to be at your beck and call when, in a matter of days, I will be posting a major dessert undertaking in which this will play a large role — so you may as well make a batch now, and have it handy so you can try your hand at what’s to follow.
As for the cost savings, bear in mind that while the research I did was in no way scientific or highly quantified, the raw goods I used to make this brought my batch of homemade ICBIN Mascarpone in at LESS THAN HALF THE PRICE of one of the more inexpensive, widely available brands of pre-packed Mascarpone. Um… Wow, y’all…
Herewith, the recipe. And it is so light and mildly flavored, I will put a few tips for serving down at the bottom that will give you some idea of its versatility. Make a batch and keep it tightly covered in the refrigerator. One of these days I’ll figure out low-fat version, but today that’s simply not my yob, mang!
8 oz. Cream Cheese (not whipped)
3 Tbsp. Sour Cream
2 Tbsp. Heavy (whipping) Cream
2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled slightly
In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine first three ingredients. Beat on low speed until incorporated, then beat on high for one minute until smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl once.
Beating on lowest speed, drizzle in melted butter until incorporated, then beat on high one additional minute.
Yields about 1-1/2 cups.
Use in place of traditional Mascarpone in your favorite recipe, place in a nonreactive, air-tight container and refrigerate, or try any of the following:
- Spread on sliced rustic or Italian bread, with chopped chives, sliced green or black olives, coarsely ground black pepper and sea salt, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- Dollop on brown bread slices with red onion, a sprinkle of dill and black pepper, and sliced smoked salmon.
- Puree with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and crushed red pepper to taste for a savory tuscan spread for flat breads, crackers, and dipping vegetables.
- Spread on fresh apple and pear slices, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
- For a tasty departure from yogurt, add maple syrup, raisins, and finely chopped walnuts; or fresh blueberries or strawberries with a spoon of honey.
- Spread lightly on slices of prosciutto, add a dried Turkish fig and a pecan half, and roll up for an amazing hors d’oeuvre.
- Mix with crushed almonds and a dash of freshly grated lemon zest, and stuff into pitted Medjool dates.
- Spoon onto toast points, and top with a dab of red or black caviar and capers.
Omigosh… now I’m fucking starving…