"Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality."
―Clifton Fadiman, U.S. author, editor, & radio host
An Italian cheese that is made by curdling milk with citric acid or acetic acid, mascarpone is a soft and thick, double- or triple-crème cheese. It has a soft and creamy texture along with a slightly sweet taste that works well in desserts and sweet dishes. While it may be delicious, especially when slathered over a bagel, or as an essential ingredient in Italian coffee trifle tiramisù and cheesecakes, this cheese does have a very high fat content, ranging from 60% to 75%. It is high in calories and dietary cholesterol. In fact, a single tablespoon of mascarpone has approximately 20 milligrams of dietary cholesterol. This is around double the daily recommended allowance of 10% for individuals with high cholesterol.
According to the American Heart Association, you should get no more than 35% of your daily calories from fat. So, before you bite into that huge mascarpone cheesecake, you should understand that you are blowing your daily calorie intake with just that one delectable dish. Instead of this high-fat cheese, you can try some healthier alternatives. These healthy substitutes for mascarpone cheese easily replace the cheese in the recipes without sacrificing the flavor and texture.
5 Healthy Mascarpone Cheese Substitutes
A traditional, soft-white, table cheese that originates from a village in Northern Normandy, and is usually heart-shaped, Neufchâtel cheese is a good alternative to mascarpone cheese. Unlike the 60 to 75% fat content in mascarpone cheese, Neufchâtel cheese contains 45% fat. It is quite similar to American cream cheese but with far less calories and fat. Due to its creamy light texture, it works well as an alternative to mascarpone in many savory sauce and casserole recipes. However, this cheese does not have the classic mascarpone flavor, and hence, in dishes where you need this, such as the Italian tiramisù, it is best to use Neufchâtel cheese with mascarpone cheese.
Ricotta is a whey cheese that is made from sheep's milk. Its name means 'cooked again' and it has rich, delicate flavor and a grainy, firm texture. A quarter cup low-fat version of the same has only sixty calories and 2.5 grams of fat. Moreover, it is rich in proteins and heart-healthy omega-3. To use it as a substitute for recipes using mascarpone cheese, it is best to blend the ricotta till it gets a fluffy, airier texture.
Light Sour Cream
When regular cream is fermented with lactic acid bacteria, it naturally sours and thickens the cream. While the regular sour cream has 18 to 20 percent butterfat―about 22 grams per 4 fluid oz.―light sour cream or the low-fat version contains 40% less butterfat. Due to similar texture and consistency, it can be replaced in sauces and casseroles.
Low-fat Greek Yogurt
Its creamy consistency and neutral flavor make Greek yogurt an excellent, highly nutritious substitute for mascarpone cheese. Also known as strained yogurt due to it being strained in a cloth or paper bag or filtered to remove the whey, giving a consistency between that of yogurt and cheese, this mascarpone substitute besides being low in fat and calories, also has 23 grams of protein and 200 milligrams of calcium in a 1-cup serving.
Low-fat Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is made from cow's milk that is curdled and then drained. The low-fat version of this cheese is not only devoid of saturated fat, but is also a rich source of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Half a cup of cottage cheese contains only 90 calories approximately, with the total calories from fat being around 10 to 12. Unfortunately, the texture and taste of cottage cheese is quite different from mascarpone cheese. Therefore, in dishes which require the exact texture and taste, you would not be able to substitute cottage cheese for mascarpone cheese.
One way to get almost the exact substitute of mascarpone cheese is by blending 1 pack of softened cream cheese with half a cup of sour cream and one-fourth cup of heavy whipping cream, until it is smooth and fluffy. Although this is not exactly the healthiest alternative to mascarpone cheese, it can help you in times you cannot find the perfect cheese for your Italian dishes.
Using these low-caloric mascarpone cheese substitutes can help lower your calorie intake. This not only is a healthy alternative, but it will also help in your weight loss goals. It is important to remember that the results of the substitutions may alter the taste, texture, weight, or moisture content of the finished product.