Ultra creamy and smooth with a fresh tangy mascarpone flavor, that's equally good in savory dishes as in desserts.
It has the perfect spreadable consistency.
📖 Recipe Overview
It's made without cashews or tofu which are commonly used to create a vegan sub for mascarpone. It's also gluten free, and you don't need a food processor or blender to make it!
But. I wanted to make this recipe as close to classic mascarpone AS POSSIBLE. So I had to delve a little deeper into the process and ingredients.
P.S. don't worry, that's agave syrup in the picture, not honey!
🧀 What is Mascarpone?
Mascarpone is an Italian soft cheese that is set using acids such as lemon juice or tartaric acid. It originated in Northern Italy in the 16th-17th century.
Although traditional mascarpone is made without rennet and is therefore vegetarian, it is made using heavy cream, which is not suitable for vegans.
This thick Italian cream cheese is made by coagulating warmed cream with acid and then strained over a cheesecloth to separate the solids from the whey.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
Here are all the simple ingredients you need to make this vegan mascarpone substitute from scratch:
Soy milk. I generally swear by soy milk due to its protein content, which is similar to that found in dairy milk. It helps the coagulation process which separates the "mascarpone cheese" from most of the liquid.
Coconut milk. Since mascarpone usually has 60-75% fat content, I found that using soy milk alone did not yield that signature smooth, rich, creamy texture. This turned out to be more like vegan ricotta cheese.
That's where full-fat coconut milk comes in, with its naturally high-fat content to mimic the consistency of heavy cream. Avoid coconut milk with added guar gum or other stabilizers, as this prevents the cream from separating - which is necessary for this recipe.
Vegan yogurt. I recommend using thick Greek-style yogurt or Skyr for this vegan mascarpone cheese. I use Alpro Greek-style soy yogurt which contains cultures S. Thermophilus, and L. Bulgaricus, which I personally find really plays into the mascarpone flavor.
Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. These acids will help solidify the "curds" and separate a lot of the water content. I find using a combination of both made the most balanced flavor.
🥣 How To Make Vegan Mascarpone
Before getting started with this dairy-free mascarpone recipe, I recommend getting your equipment together.
Once you have all your bits and bobs prepped, it'll make the process of making this homemade vegan mascarpone recipe so much easier.
- Whisk the coconut milk, soy milk, and dairy-free yogurt in a saucepan until smooth.
- Slowly heat over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the temperature reaches 85-90°C (185-194°F).
- Remove from the heat and stir in the acids. Return to the heat and cook until bubbly and foamy on top.
- Cool the mascarpone mixture to room temperature. At this stage, the mascarpone will have curdled and resemble a thick buttermilk consistency and some of the fat/protein will appear coagulated and be sticking to the sides of the pot.
- Prepare the straining device, by placing a colander or fine-mesh sieve on top of a large mixing bowl. Then line the sieve or colander with cheesecloth (a large nut milk bag would work too). Pour the cooled mascarpone into the lined sieve.
- Tie the top of the cloth together with a rubber band or cover loosely with some foil, plastic wrap, or a plate, and refrigerate.
- After 12-24 hours, most of the liquid will have strained from the mascarpone cheese. Spoon the cheese out of the nut milk bag and place it in a large bowl.
- Technically, you could leave it here and have a very thick mascarpone, but I recommend whipping it for 3-5 minutes as this mellows out the acidity and creates the creamiest consistency, and increases the yield.
What to do with mascarpone
- Use it in vegan cheesecake instead of non-dairy yogurt.
- As a base for this vegan tiramisu recipe.
- Stir into mashed potatoes.
- As a filling for pies and tarts.
- On toast with fresh basil, fresh fruit, berries, and a drizzle of agave, maple syrup, or strawberry coulis.
- Make creamy mascarpone pasta sauce (like this tomato mascarpone sauce by The Veg Connection - just swap the hard cheese for vegan parmesan or some nutritional yeast and you're good to go!).
- Top your vegan pizza (this homemade pizza by The Banana Diaries looks great!).
- Add on top of soups, warm salads, or in place of sour cream or crème fraîche in savory recipes.
Add it to an airtight container or sealed jar and refrigerate. It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
I reckon you can. As this recipe uses the entire can of coconut milk (the fat and the watery part) using pure coconut cream will likely give you a thicker consistency.
I do recommend using a candy thermometer, but if you're keen to go ahead and make the recipe without one, just follow the timings closely and use the images above for reference!
Unfortunately, throughout my recipe testing, I have found that it's essential to get a result closest to an authentic texture and make the best vegan mascarpone.
I will say though that the acids in the recipe really help to mask the flavor of the coconut, and I personally don't find you can taste it at all!
🥛 More Basic Vegan Recipes
- Add the full can of coconut milk, soy milk, and yogurt to a saucepan and whisk well to combine. Slowly heat over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the temperature reaches 85-90°C (185-194°F).
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Place the pot back on the heat and continue to heat on medium heat for another 10 minutes, without agitating the pot - it should be bubbly and foamy on top and some of the curds will appear to be separating from the liquid.Remove the pot from the heat again and let it cool completely to room temperature for about 30 minutes or so. The mixture will start to appear curdled and thicken in parts.
- Place a fine-mesh sieve or colander over a large mixing bowl and line the sieve/colander with cheesecloth. Transfer the cooled cream to the lined sieve/colander. Secure the top of the cheesecloth with a rubber band or loosely cover it with foil or a large plate. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
- After the cheese is chilled and strained, you'll be left with a mixture of water and light cream in the bowl. You can reserve this and use it for other recipes such as pasta. What's left in the cheesecloth will be thick vegan mascarpone cheese.
- Transfer the mascarpone to a large mixing bowl and whisk for 3-5 minutes until smooth and creamy.
- Serving: Use in vegan desserts like tiramisu, or in place of vegan yogurt in cheesecake recipes, or top pizza, add to pasta, or simply enjoy with fresh fruit or on a slice of toast with a drizzle of agave or maple syrup.For a sweet mascarpone cream, stir in 1-2 tablespoons agave or maple syrup or whisk in 2 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar.
- Storage: Place the mascarpone in an airtight jar or container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
- Coconut Milk - Avoid coconut milk with added guar gum or other stabilizers, as this prevents the cream from separating - which is necessary for this recipe. I recommend Biona or Nature's Charm natural coconut milk.
- Let the mascarpone mixture cool completely before transferring it to the cheesecloth. If you try to drain it whilst hot, you will lose a lot of the fat particles which first need to cool and thicken slightly.
- Don't throw out the strained liquid. You can use this in so many other recipes that usually call for milk or buttermilk (think pancakes, tortillas, curries, or creamy pasta sauce, perhaps even bread, etc.)
- If you can't find a dairy-free substitute for Greek yogurt, then regular unsweetened soy yogurt is fine. The mixture will yield a fraction less of the solid mascarpone cheese.
- I do recommend using a candy thermometer, but if you're keen to go ahead and make the recipe without one, just follow the timings closely and use the images above for reference!
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