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You gotta love the Italian instinct for cheese-making. These people looked at the cream that rose to the top of their bucket of milk, tasted it, and said, "Gee, I like this, but wouldn't it be nice if it were even more creamy and fatty?"
Because that's the only way I can explain the audacious fun that is mascarpone—cream curdled with acid to strain off the watery whey, leaving behind a super creamy, spreadable cheese. Because it's cheese, not butter, no one will look at you twice if you eat a spoonful as a snack, even if it's almost as calorically intense.
While you can easily plop mascarpone on cake or pie and call it a day, it's not much harder to mix it with some milk and sugar to make gelato. From start to finish, you can have freshly made ice cream in 40 minutes with this recipe, which is simple enough for any weeknight but fancy enough to embellish holiday desserts.
Mascarpone gelato doesn't need any touch-ups—the full creaminess and fresh dairy flavor come through loud and clear—but a little lemon never hurt anyone, and it brightens this scoop up nicely.
Everyone needs a Swiss army knife ice cream that can be used to improve any dessert or become one on its own. Let this be yours.