I love mascarpone, but apparently mascarpone doesn’t love me. It does not at all like my attempts to make it do what I want it to do. It’s all very well if I eat choose to eat it on its own, spread on a muffin or paired with some berries. But I often see wonderful creations with mascarpone, creamy concoctions atop cakes and tarts and I so very much want to make them. They look so light and fluffy and after all, mascarpone is so similar to cream cheese, it should be easy to whip into whatever shape I want it take. Oh the hubris of thinking you know how mascarpone will behave!
I have made a handful of desserts with mascarpone and exactly 50% of the time, the mascarpone has done exactly what I wanted it to do. The other 50%, it has become a curdled, clumpy mess. The first time it happened, I was trying to make a low carb mascarpone frosting for a Flourless Chocolate Torte. I thought it might be the result of using sweeteners other than sugar that made it separate out. When I searched online, it seems it had happened to other people but it wasn’t an overly common occurrence and there weren’t any very good suggestions to fix it. Then the next time I took a chance on a creamy mascarpone filling for Tiramisu Chocolate Cups, it didn’t happen at all and I chalked it up to a fluke.
This time, I was using my own Homemade Mascarpone and I was so excited to try it in some yummy recipes. I had a wonderful idea for these coffee flavoured cookie cups, filled with creamy mascarpone and sprinkled with cocoa powder. Tiramisu you can pick up and eat with your fingers, how great is that? Except the minute I tried to mix my mascarpone, it separated out into whey and curds. It was virtuously instantaneous; I had barely touched the mascarpone before it separated. I hadn’t even added any sweetener yet, it was just the mascarpone on its own, behaving as badly as a spoiled child. I was nearly in tears, seeing all of my lovely homemade mascarpone, seemingly going to waste.
I despaired of finding anything to help, but this time the internet divulged some information that was considerably more helpful. Someone on some message board somewhere in cyberspace pointed out that mascarpone has a tendency to become un-emulsified (i.e. the fat and liquids separated) and I needed to add an emulsifier to bring them back together. This person suggested flour but then that would rather defeat the purpose of making a gluten-free dessert. So I turned to a trusty and useful gluten-free ingredient, guar gum, and sprinkled a bit in, then started mixing the mascarpone back together. And lo and behold, it actually worked! The mascarpone even stayed together and willingly let me add some cream and sugar-free coffee liqueur to it without rebelling. My relief was palpable, I didn’t have to toss out my gorgeous cookie cups or my lovely homemade mascarpone and I ended up with a dessert I could actually serve to people!
The moral of the story: mascarpone isn’t as easy going as cream cheese and it will flout you if you presume to think so. But even if it rebels, don’t despair. You can save your lovely dessert with a little ingenuity and an emulsifier.
Tiramisu Cookie Cups
Creamy tiramisu filling in little coffee-flavoured cookie cups. Tiramisu you can eat with your fingers! Low carb and gluten-free.
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1/3 cup Swerve Sweetener or other erythritol
- 1 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 tsp stevia extract
- 1/4 cup whipping cream, chilled
- 1/3 cup powdered Swerve
- 1 tbsp coffee liqueur (preferably [homemade, sugar-free coffee liqueur|http://alldayidreamaboutfood.com/2013/01/homemade-coffee-liqueur-sugar-free.html)
- 1/8 tsp stevia extract
- 6 oz mascarpone, room temperature
- 1/2 - 3/4 tsp guar gum (if necessary, to re-emulsify)
- Cocoa powder for sprinkling
- For the cookie cups, preheat oven to 325F and grease a mini muffin tin (24 mini-muffin capacity).
- In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, erythritol, espresso powder, baking powder and salt.
- Stir in butter, egg and stevia until dough comes together.
- Form by hand into approximately 1-inch balls and place dough balls into prepared mini-muffin tin. This recipe will make exactly 24 so if you've made your balls too big or too small, go back and redistribute the dough.
- Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of each mini-muffin hole. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until edges are lightly brown and cookie cup is puffed up a bit.
- Remove from oven and use the end of a wooden spoon to gently create a nice well in the center of each cookie cup. Let cool.
- For the filling, ship cream with powdered erythritol until it forms stiff peaks. Stir in coffee liqueur and stevia extract.
- Gently fold in room-temperature mascarpone. If it separates and gets clumpy, beat in guar gum 1/4 tsp at a time until comes back together.
- Spoon or pipe filling into cooled cookie cups. Sift cocoa powder over top and refrigerate 20 minutes to set.
Serves 12 (2 cookie cups each). Each serving has 5.5 g of carbs and 2 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 3.5 g.