Separated mascarpone whipped cream

I was making tiramisu and this is my 2nd time following the same recipe without having any issues the first time. My previously unopened mascarpone (after sitting at room temp for 1 hr), came out of the container already kind of curdled (smelled fine) and could not be whisked into a smooth texture. But I managed to get rid of the lumps after microwaving it for a few seconds, following the tips I found on food52. The mixture was still smooth after I added the cooked egg yolk mixture. I whisked my heavy cream in a separate bowl into medium peaks and folded it into my mascarpone mixture. It curdled up immediately. Not knowing what else to do, I just tried the microwave trick on it again, and it came out completely separated into something that looks like Greek yogurt and something like melted butter (as pictured). I am going to start fresh with a new box of mascarpone, but I’m just curious what went wrong this time. Especially, was my mascarpone somehow low quality out of the box? It even says “creamy” on the packaging so it was quite a surprise to see it come out of the box curdled. Thanks!

  • Posted by: yizzie
  • June 25, 2020
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Lori T. June 27, 2020
The one thing you wrote which stood out to me was that your mascarpone looked curdled in the tub. That suggests that your cheese was already heat damaged when you opened it. It may have happened in transport, with the cold chain being broken. Mascarpone is a very high fat cheese, so it's very temperature sensitive. You can also heat shock it into separating, as when you added in the eggs- and then when you tried heating it. When you add in an ingredient that is either warmer or colder than your cheese, it cause cause separation. Finally, you may just have old cheese, and want to check dates. At any rate, heat is never a friend of mascarpone cheese, really. The reason you can cause it to curdle due to overwhipping is due to the friction heat produced by the process. For that reason, I prefer to soften my cheese with a wooden spoon and elbow grease just before I need to use it, because the easier way with room temp cheese just leads to too many potential problems.
Nancy June 26, 2020
Found a note in Nigella Lawson website that mascarpone separates easily because it's high fat. That doesn't make complete sense to me because many other high fat items don't easily separate. But if you still have the first batch, it's edible. Another thing, overwhipping can conduce to or encourage the separating.
The tiramisu version I make does not have three whipped things (mascarpone, whipped cream and cooked egg yolks), just mascarpone, some coffee flavoring, the cookies, a bit of sugar, liqueur, and cocoa powder. Maybe try making next one with fewer sauce elements and less whipping. Just spread the mascarpone over the cookies.
Nancy June 28, 2020
Or use the mascarpone thinned with a little heavy cream, still avoiding whipping, spread out over the soaked and flavored cookies.
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