The Return of Mascarpone!

Hard to believe that it’s already been 11 weeks since we made mascarpone together. At the time, I said that I would revisit the dishes used to illustrate that post and, to that end, I’ve already shared the recipe for Pappardelle with Spinach, Mascarpone, and Pecorino Romano Cheeses. Today we’re going to use mascarpone in two desserts and again to make jalapeño poppers.

When most hear the word “mascarpone”, they think of tiramisu, that quintessential Italian treat — and who would blame them?  I do plan to share our family recipe for tiramisu but at a later date. That dish deserves a post all its own. So, instead, I’ll share two easy confections that combine whipped mascarpone with fresh berries. To make the whipped mascarpone, take some whipping cream and beat until peaks form. Add icing/confectioner’s sugar, to taste, during the process. To the sweetened whipped cream, add at least an equal amount of mascarpone and beat the mixture until peaks again form. Taste midway through to see if more sugar is needed. Set aside for use in either of the following two recipes.

In the first case, fresh strawberries are hulled and quartered before being macerated with a little sugar and balsamic vinegar.  There is only one real concern about this dish and that involves the balsamic vinegar. In the past, when I made this, I took a couple of ounces of balsamic, added a little sugar & lemon juice, and then reduced it by half over a med-high heat. Once cooled, I used it to make my parfaits. Last Christmas, my friends, Cynthia & Nigel, gave me a bottle of aged balsamic and it’s perfect for this dessert without being reduced or sweetened. Whether your balsamic is good as-is or has been reduced and cooled, the parfaits are made the same from this point forward. Hull and quarter 4 or 5 strawberries per serving. Sprinkle them with a little sugar, more or less depending upon the sweetness of the berries. Add  a couple of tablespoons of the (reduced) balsamic vinegar, mix well, and set aside for about a half hour. (This would be a good time to make the whipped mascarpone.)  Once the berries are ready, begin building the parfaits. Start with the mascarpone and create alternating layers of the whipped cheese and the berries in each parfait cup. You’ll want to finish with berries on top. When all the cups have been filled, divide whatever berry/balsamic sauce is left among the servings. Garnish with a piece of basil, if you like.

This next recipe uses chocolate sauce instead of balsamic vinegar. As you’ve probably noticed in the picture, I like a thick chocolate sauce. Here I created a granache, of sorts, by melting 4 semi-sweet chocolate squares in a double boiler, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of  heavy cream, and stirring until well combined. Once cooled, I used it to top my dessert, resulting in a thick mass of chocolate-y goodness. For a thinner sauce, add more cream, some butter, and sugar to the double boiler and stir thoroughly. As for the berries, you can wash and trim them, serving them as-is, or, once cleaned, you can put them all in a bowl, add a little sugar & lemon juice, and let sit for 30 minutes. When ready to prepare your dessert, place a large dollop of whipped mascarpone in the center of each dessert plate and spoon mixed berries on top of each dollop.  Add another, smaller, dollop on each dish and top off each with more berries. Finish each dessert with some chocolate sauce and serve.

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The last recipe for today uses mascarpone to make jalapeño poppers. Most of us have favorite popper recipes and mine involves cream cheese, garlic, onion, and grated cheeses to make a filling for the peppers. Mascarpone, though creamier, isn’t as flavorful as cream cheese and, as a result, I do not add garlic nor onion to the filling for fear of completely overpowering the mascarpone. I do add grated Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses to the filling to give it more “body.” I use 2 parts mascarpone to 1 part cheddar and 1 part Monterey Jack. To prepare the peppers, take off the top of each, creating a boat-like vessel to hold the cheese. (Cutting them in half will allow the cheese filling to spill during baking.) With a spoon, clean out the seeds and ribs from inside each “boat.” Now, filling each pepper, as-is, will result in pretty mild poppers. For more heat, dice the trimmed tops with as much of the seeds & ribs that you like and add them to the cheeses. Once thoroughly mixed, fill each boat with the cheese but not to over-flowing. Next, place some Panko bread crumbs and a couple of tablespoons of grated Pecorino Romano cheese in a shallow dish and roll each filled pepper into the dish, coating the cheese filling with the bread crumb mixture. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, place each on the tray, and cook in a pre-heated 400˚ oven until topping begins to brown.  I start checking at about the 15 minute mark. If the peppers bake for too long, the pepper walls might collapse, spilling the hot cheese filling all over your baking sheet. Once baked to your satisfaction, remove to a serving platter and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

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Coming Attractions

Warn the dairies! Next week we’re making American Mozzarella.

 *     *     *

By any other name …

“Helen Hayes”

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94 thoughts on “The Return of Mascarpone!

  1. Right, first off, I will have to take a portion of each dessert please… John, they look heavenly. I would be the size of a bus if I had to eat in your home everyday!
    Would you look at the formation of those petals – exquisite! Pretty as a picture as they say.
    Have a super day.
    🙂 Mandy

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  2. I love that first image with all those beautiful berries – how divine. And that’s very generous of you to share three recipes with us. I love your layered parfait but I think I absolutely must have some of that chocolate sauce – I like it thick too! I’ve never had a stuffed jalepeno. I don’t think jalepenos are a common vegetable here. I would love to try these. And that’s a very beautiful rose! xx

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    • Thanks, Charlie. I wouldn’t have felt right only sharing one of these recipes being each is so simple. Besides, the farmers markets are over-flowing with strawberries right now and this post was a perfect excuse for over-indulging. I’d no idea that jalapeños weren’t common Down Under. They’re everywhere here and, although they can be hot, they’re the least spicy of the hot peppers, making them perfect for stuffing.

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  3. I must try this recipe (although with a few changes as we don’t find whipping cream here) – the balsamic vinegar sounds like a magical ingredient to add to the mascarpone and fruit. A very beautiful rose, too!

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    • Good morning! I’m learning a lot through this post. Whipping cream isn’t available in France and jalapeños aren’t to be found in Australia. Who knew?
      If you’ve not tried balsamic with strawberries, it’s time you did. They go so well together, creating a dessert that’s not too sweet. Perfect!

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      • I’m definitely going to try balsamic vinegar with strawberries (although they are over now till the autumn here). Whipping cream may be more widely available in northern France, but here in the south people don’t use much cream at all, or butter. Olive oil is used in cooking in this Mediterranean area which is very different from, say Normandy in the north.

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        • I didn’t realize it but, in that regard, France sounds much like Italy, where the further south you go, the more olive oil is used instead of dairy. Thank heaven there are no such concerns with balsamic!

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  4. My goodness, how heavenly is that chocolate sauce, the kind that not only sticks to the roof of your mouth, front teeth and spoon, but one that is truly irresistible…I’ve been seeing so many chocolate dishes today, and appropriately chocolat is screening tonight on television. Over indulgence! All looks wonderful John, as always. x

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    • Thank you, Yvette. I happen to love my chocolate and don’t make a sauce very often — I’d surely over-indulge. So, when I make it, an oh-so-chic little smear of chocolate on my dessert plate isn’t going to work for me. As you noted, I want it to be thick and to cover my palate and mouth. Adding it to a large dollop of whipped mascarpone makes one decadent dessert. It’s healthy, though. Just look at those anti-oxidant filled berries! 😉
      Have a great day!

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  5. I’m loving the jalapeño poppers recipe – I’m growing, well hopefully, a kind of pepper that isn’t too hot in terms of heat, and the hope is that I’ll be able to use them for stuffing – so now I have the recipe, I just need the peppers 🙂 and what a beautiful rose John – thank you!

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    • Thanks, Claire. Jalapeños, for my tastes, are the perfect pepper for stuffing. Although I like some heat, I don’t have the tolerance that most others have. I use some of the seeds and ribs in the cheese filling, giving the stuffed peppers just enough heat. The rest goes to my parrot, Lucy. She loves her peppers, the hotter the better. 🙂

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  6. Now you´re just spoiling us – three recipes John! A question – how many of those japaleño peppers could I eat before being considered rude?! Am thinking double figures here…..As for that beautiful rose, wasn´t Helen Hayes that great actress who was Miss Marple? Am a huge Agatha Christie fan 🙂

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    • Good morning, Tanya! “Spoiling you”? I felt a little guilty posting these simple recipes, to be honest. The truth is, I’m up to my ears in mozzarella, trying to get next week’s post done and photographed. I’d planned on posting the mozzarella instructions today and, when that wasn’t possible, I was left scrambling for an alternative. Not to worry, though, next week is mozzarella week, guaranteed!
      Yes, that is the same Helen Hayes that played Miss Marple. She was known as the First Lady of the American Theatre and had won Oscar, Tony, Grammy, and Emmy awards. Her son, Larry Hagman, played the evil J. R. Ewing on the old Dallas program, which is returning to TV this week, coincidentally.

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        • If we lived near each other it had better be next door. After about a year of eating each other’s food, we would have a hard time waddling much further than a few feet at a time — but we’d be smiling! 🙂

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  7. Oh, wow! Our strawberries are right at the peak of perfection right now, and this does sound yummy… I made strawberry syrup yesterday, and it should combine nicely with your marscapone.
    Lovely rose – is it fragrant, too?

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    • Living here, I’m pretty fortunate. Our farmers markets draw vendors from Illinois & Indiana to the south and Wisconsin and Michigan from the north. As a result, some fruit & vegetable seasons are extended a bit. Asparagus, for example, is still readily available, even as there are tables filled with strawberries. I’ve been enjoying the strawberries this year. Yum! I hop you plan on sharing your strawberry syrup recipe. I bet it’s delicious when made from fresh berries!
      Yes, she’s a hybrid tea rose and fragrant. She gives a flurry of blooms in May and then slow down a bit, steadily in bloom for the rest of the season.

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  8. Pingback: The Return of Mascarpone! | Le Marche and Food | Scoop.it

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  10. Oh My Oh MY! I am loving this post. These are great summer recipes to die for. After trying these I will have to run around a bit to compensate. All worth it. I’m a chocolate lover so that recipe I will try first. Thanks for sharing.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

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    • Thanks, David. I don’t know who first thought to put balsamic with strawberries but surely he was canonized for his discovery. They go so well together! The “photo shoots” for this post were some of the most delicious to date. 🙂

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  11. I absolutely ADORE the parfait glass you have plated your beautiful dessert in, John, my dear Mother had some exactly the same, with the long thin spoons! I have since found and purchased the spoons but sadly not the glasses (one could say I have enough glasses, though!). The first dessert is one that I would be drawn to, as I am not much of a dessert eater. What wonderful friends to give you aged Balsamic, they are quite costly. JT gave me a bottle for Christmas and I savour it every time I use it. By the way, the Kirkland Balsamic at Costco is a reasonable price for 1 litre (I think) and it’s good enough quality for dressings but I like to use it generously for marinating and reducing as you described above.
    The peppers looks great too, and I love that you bake them (you knew I would!). I will have to try those for our next cocktails. This is why I love reading my favorite blogs, the ideas are endless!
    Now you have certainly piqued my curiosity with the mozzarella, John, I am waiting anxiously for that post.

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    • You’re always so encouraging, Eva, and I do appreciate it.
      I love to go to antique shops and “second hand” stores whenever I’m out and happen upon one. I was at a charity thrift shop when I saw 2 of these parfait glasses. I bought them immediately — and I’ve already got Mom’s spoons!
      The balsamic was a very nice gift and i use it so sparingly! That bottle is going to last.
      Fresh mozzarella is sooo good, Eva. The great thing about this recipe is that it only takes a couple hours. you can make it after lunch and serve Insalata Caprese for supper. And once you taste it fresh, that’s what you’ll be doing. It’s a real treat.

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  12. You got me with that first photo, how many hours did you spend at the farmers’ market, did you bring a gigantic basket? Bet you were thrilled to receive that special gift from your friends Cynthia & Nigel.
    Love all 3 recipes especially the thick chocolate sauce, I am a chocoholic.
    Another perfect rose from your garden, thanks for sharing.

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    • Good morning, Norma. I’ve gotten to be an old pro at the farmers markets. My shopping list varies depending upon which one I’m at. As a result, I get in and out pretty quickly. And yes, that was a very special gift to receive!
      We’re cut from the same cloth, as far was chocolate is concerned. That’s why I make my sauce so thick. I want the chocolate to bathe my tongue and linger on the palate. It cannot be too thick! 🙂

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  13. What a gorgeous rose! Helen Hayes…there’s a name to make me smile! I love the poppers and the mascarpone would be such a delicate change from cream cheese! And the berry dessert looks wonderful. All the tastes I adore combined in one dessert. I have mentioned that my dad returned from the hospital with some ongoing health concerns and for now he couldn’t eat this…many times my favorite cooking adventures have been about “fattening him up” and I’m going to set this recipe aside for now, hoping I get the chance to make it for him before too long! This dish has his name written all over it! Looking ahead to American mozzarella! 🙂 Debra

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    • Yes, Helen is a beauty, isn’t she? I, too, love the flavors of these desserts. And they have berries, so, they must be healthy, too. Right? Don’t answer that!
      I am glad that your Dad is home, Debra. Getting out of the hospital is sure to brighten anyone spirits. I hope it isn’t much longer before he’s healthy enough to get back to living a normal life again. He’ll get there. I’m sure of it.
      And when he does, you’ll have a couple mascarpone desserts to serve him to mark the occasion. 🙂

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  14. I am SO grateful strawberries are in season around here right now. They will be perfect in that parfait, which has my name written all over it! I’m gonna try the whipped mascarpone, John, but I won’t be able to make it at home for a few weeks. Do you have a store-bought brand that you like? Or should I just wait? I’m not sure I can 🙂

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    • I thought you might like today’s post, given how much you liked that recipe for strawberry jam with balsamic & pepper. I am definitely buying berries this weekend and making that. How could I not?
      I’ve never really had a preferred brand of mascarpone. None of my groceries offer more than 1 brand of the cheese. I didn’t select a brand so much as I did decide to go shopping at this or that grocery. And I never bought so much of it that I noticed a difference between brands. It really is a moot point, now that I make my own. Just like with the ricotta, I can’t see myself buying it again. It’s too easy to make and the results are fantastic.
      I wouldn’t wait though, Sarah. Strawberries are reaching their peak now. They won’t be any tastier than the are right now. You don’t want to miss out!

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      • No, I do not want to miss out, they’re wonderful right now. I wish I had made the mascarpone though 😦 instead, we’re on our third batch of feta 🙂 Thanks John!

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        • Third batch?!?!? You guys have taken this recipe feta to heart! I spoke with my Zia and she, too, loves it. She’s even used it on pasta. I hope everyone likes next week’s mozzarella as much.

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    • Poppers are pretty common up here, although they’re often deep fried. As much as I enjoy fried food, Sharyn, I’ll choose a baked alternative, if it’s available. And using jalapeños does give you control over the heat, too. If you try them, I hope you enjoy them.

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  15. how decadent of you!!! and then you add a rose as well! mercy john! these desserts are perfect and i am intrigued by the reduced balsamic, this is the second time in as many days that i have read about it. To have it with desert is a fantastic idea.. now your mozzerella recipe is the one i am waiting for.. I have MILK NOW!!! SO wish i could send you some.. have a great day, it is nice and cool down here, and no wind!! c

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    • Thank you, Celi. These desserts are decadent and I don’t make them often lest they lose that “specialness.” I do enjoy them, though. I’ve thought about you and Daisy a number of times this past week while I was making mozzarella. I can only guess how good this cheese will taste with fresh milk. For that matter, any of these cheeses will taste 100 times better with raw milk.
      It is a cool day and tomorrow will be another nice one. I’ll be going back to Wrigley tomorrow afternoon for a Cubs game. The heat returns on the weekend. I hope it brings some thunderstorms, too. I know you guys to the south really need it.

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  16. That parfait looks heavenly … you simply can’t go wrong with fresh berries! Confession time …. I suppose I must have had mascarpone in some dessert, sometime, but I haven’t knowingly eaten it, and have never used it. Am I still allowed to follow your blog? How ’bout if I promise to try some mascarpone soon?

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    • Of course you can still follow my blog, Mar, but you won’t be taught the secret handshake, sorry to say. 🙂
      If you’ve been served tiramisu, then you’ve tasted mascarpone. Some call it the Italian cream cheese but I don’t like that comparison. Cream cheese has a stronger flavor but mascarpone is much creamier. That’s why it works so well when blended with whipping cream. Mix it with fresh berries and add your favorite sauce — chocolate, balsamic, strawberry, you name it. If you like, you can even flavor it with vanilla, a touch of rum, almond extract, again you name it. It is expensive, so, follow my recipe. It’s half the cost, at least, easy to do, and every bit as good as what you can buy. And you’ll have enough left over to make that pasta dish I posted, too. You can’t go wrong!

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      • You’ve convinced me, I really must try mascarpone! Sounds heavenly! Have to admit, the price is one of the reasons I haven’t tried it up until now, so I should give making my own a try, especially now that we’re coming into berry season!

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        • That’s great, Mar. I’ll be here if you’ve any questions or run into any problems but I doubt that you will. Mascarpone is really easy to make and the desserts, well, they’re simple, too. 🙂

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  17. This post has a little something for everyone in our family. I bought a bottle of aged balsamic while in Italy and now I can drizzle a little of the mascapone and berries that will be for mom. But for my teenage boys a deep fried bliss of cheese and jalapenos, I will never be able to make enough as these look fantastic. Great ideas!

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    • These parfaits are just perfect for your balsamic, BAM. Your Mom will love the flavor combination. Poppers really do go fast around here. Be sure to reserve 1 or 2 in the kitchen for yourself because they’ll be gone from the serving platter in minutes. 🙂

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  18. Elegant Helen Hayes rose photo in a lovely light- and now on to the parfaits!
    Oh my oh my. All calorie worthy to be sure! That chocolate sauce looks perfect to me so thick and rich.
    And John, your berries fell out onto my keyboard, just like the peas. Super shot.

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    • Thanks, Ruth. Your complimenting my photos means a lot.
      Helen is a great rose bush. You should see her in May. It’s really spectacular. She’ll bloom all season but that first burst is something to see.
      If you got some mascarpone, grab some berres and go for it! You won’t be disappointed whether you use balsamic, a chocolate sauce, or some other sauce more to your liking. You really cannot go wrong.

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  19. Gorgeous rose shot John! And we loved your mascarpone pasta recipe. Yum! Yum! I know I would enjoy the first parfait immensely, but not nearly as much as Miss A, who would probably try and dive into it! I think Mr. N would like your chocolate version and Mike would be all over the poppers. Great treats! And really you can never go wrong with mascarpone in my book. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Kristy. It’s always good to hear that a recipe goes over well, especially when it’s with 2 such discerning critics as your SousChefs. 🙂
      These mascarpone recipes do appeal to a broad range of palats, from the sweet to the spicy. You really can control the sweet, too. I put very little sugar in my whipped mascarpone but I know others who do the opposite. Same goes with the spice in the popers. Use all of the seeds and ribs and you’ve got some spice peppers there.
      I’m off to the Cubs game today. Never really know which team is going to show up. 🙂

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    • Thank you, Courtney, and I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. No matter what sauce you choose, if any, mascarpone & berries is a great summertime treat. You cannot go wrong.

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  20. Who would like a thinner chocolate sauce? No one I know. ;)Yours looks so decadent, thick and perfect. Can you tell this chocoholic got sidetracked by the lascivious display of chocolate sauce? The mascarpone whipping cream combination sounds lovely for berries. I didn’t miss that altogether John.

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    • Thanks, Geni, and I heartily agree with you. It is so disappointing to have a dessert placed in front of me and the chocolate sauce has been reduced to a smear on the plate’s bottom. Are you kidding me? If I’m ordering a dish with chocolate sauce, bring me the sauce!!!!
      I’m getting all worked up here. Have a good night, Geni. I’m going to get me some chocolate. 🙂

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  21. We’ve been triply tempted! (How to thank you enough!?) Especially love the sound (and looks) of the berries & mascarpone with balsamic! We’ve got strawberries and blueberries both ripe for the pickin’ so I’ll be making this for sure, and soon! Can’t do THIS weekend though because I’ve promised my husband the pappardelle with mascarpone & spinach!
    Is that Helen Hays growing in YOUR garden? Ahh, she’s lucky!

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    • Why not make the pasta and serve the berries for dessert? Just don’t go for a cholesterol test anytime soon.
      I hope you both like the pasta dish as much as I do. I served it to my Zia when I was home last and she, too, has become a fan. If a dish gets her seal of approval, I know I’m doing all right!
      Yes, Helen’s in my garden along with a few friends. 😉

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    • Thanks, Susie. I’m a mascarpone lover, too, and these desserts are perfect for summer. I really enjoy ice cream, to be sure, but whipped mascarpone is a great alternative. And a nice surprise for most dinner guests.

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  22. Berries in balsamic … with mascarpone, are you kidding?! Oh yum²! And those jalapenos — sweet and savory all in one post, okay, I’m ready to eat. Thanks for helping me expand my horizons with mascarpone, you are right, it is something I only think to use for lasagna or tiramisu.

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    • Well, Judy, I’ve had a lot of cheese and dairy products in my fridge these past few months for this cheese series and this was a chance to at least clear out the mascarpone. (I did make another batch, though, when I visited my Zia in Michigan.) I still have a jar of feta, brining, and now there’s mozzarella in there, too. With ice cream season upon us now, it looks like I’ll remain a regular in the dairy aisle for at least another few months. 🙂

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  23. I’m not sure how I missed seeing this post in my reader, but I’m glad I’m catching it now. I could just lap up the balsamic macerated berries with the whipped mascarpone and cream. Can it get any better than that? But wait, chocolate ganache too? Oh my, my, my. I know what I’m having for dessert next. I’d never thought about mascarpone in jalapeno poppers, but that’s a really brilliant idea, too. All that creaminess with the heat has gotta be terrific. A delicious post and wow, another absolutely stunning rose. You really are quite the gardener in addition to being a fabulous cook, John. The colors of the Helen Hayes may just be my favorite!

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    • Thanks, Betsy, for leaving such a great comment. Mascarpone Week was a fantastic one. I just had to make all of those recipes, again and again, until I got just the right picture. (Hehe) And those poppers tend to disappear. I couldn’t possible have eaten them all. Max must have swiped a few when I wasn’t looking.
      And the Helen Hayes rose is a stunner, isn’t she? Unfortunately, that rose bed is in terrible need of a good weeding. This heat wave, though, makes working outside just about impossible. Hopefully, at the end of this week we’ll get some relief and I’ll be able to get that bed in order. My girls (you’ve yet to meet them all) deserve better!

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        • I was joking about the poppers but, if given the chance, he probably would steal one or two. You’d be amazed at what he’s eaten — and to what lengths he’s gone to get it! I actually caught him lapping up tomato sauce that was cooling in a pot on the stove — more than once! He is, in every sense of the words, TOO MUCH! 🙂

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    • The way you’ve taken to cheese-making, Sawsan, I doubt if you’ll have any problems making mascarpone. It is very easy to do. As for tomorrow’s mozzarella, it is quicker than most. You can begin to make it after lunch and serve it for dinner that same day. Again, you shouldn’t have any problems with the recipe. You’re a natural!

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  24. Pingback: A Blogger’s Relaxing Day Leads To A Jam-Filled One For Me | from the Bartolini kitchens

    • Welcome, Tricia! I hope you’ll find these recipes to your liking. I hope you noticed the pasta recipe in the post’s opening paragraph. If you’re game, here’s the link to a post showing you how to make your own mascarpone. It’s much easier than one might think and the result is one very good cheese.
      Thank you, Tricia, for your visit and for taking the time to comment. Hope to see you again.

      Liked by 1 person

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