1. CUT stems off of the strawberries and place stem-side down on cutting board. Cut each strawberry lengthwise into quarters, stopping just before knife hits cutting board, so berries stay intact. Place on a serving platter.
2. COMBINE mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, sugar, lemon curd and vanilla in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer until cream is thickened and smooth. Place mascarpone mixture in a piping bag with a star tip attached or a plastic bag and cut off one corner of the bag to pipe.
3. PRESS one small blueberry down through the center of each strawberry, taking care to keep berries intact. (It’s a blueberry “surprise.”) Slowly pipe the mascarpone cream into the strawberries until filled. Top berries with a single blueberry and garnish with lemon zest.
4. REFRIGERATE until ready to serve.
WHAT IS MASCARPONE
Mascarpone is sometimes referred to as “Italian cream cheese.” It’s softer and richer than American-style cream cheese, with less of a tang.
Mascarpone has an extraordinarily high butterfat content, unsurprising given that it’s made from the cream skimmed from cow’s milk. Truly fresh mascarpone has almost a sweet flavor, and this is a cheese with very low or no sodium. It’s highly perishable and must be kept cold.
In Italy, mascarpone is often served with fresh fruit instead of the American preference for whipped cream. It is what gives tiramisu its creaminess. While some think mascarpone is the chief component of cannolis, it is actually ricotta. Mascarpone or ricotta is used in Italian cheesecake.
Mascarpone is believed to have originated in the Lombardy region of Italy, most likely in the late 1500s or early 1600s. The name “mascarpone” may come from the Spanish “mas que bueno” (“better than good”), a holdover from the days when the Spanish ruled Italy.
Another possibility is that the name derived from “mascarpia,” the local dialect term for ricotta, because both ricotta and mascarpone are made by very similar processes.
Look for American-made mascarpone from Crave Brothers or Vermont Creamery. Try eating it from the container with a spoon!
More about mascarpone.